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Biker profiling bill killed in Senate

Motorcyclists display solidarity at the Capitol February 7, to protest profiling by the police. (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Motorcyclists display solidarity at the Capitol February 7, to protest profiling by the police. (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

A bill requiring police to be trained on the wrongs of profiling motorcyclists fell today in the Senate Committee of the Whole.

Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, and Sen. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, voted with the Democratic caucus to kill SB1086 in a 14-14 roll call vote. Yarbrough led the effort to kill it, arguing that to pass the bill would open the door for the Legislature to decide on other protected classes.

“Once we start down the road of trying to micromanage the syllabus for the police academy, we will indeed regret having done so,” Yarbrough said. “How about persons who wear military uniforms? Certainly they ought to be protected as a class. What about young people, or what about little old ladies with gray hair? All of those might be worthy of being a protected class so they’re not profiled by the police.”

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Judy Burges, R-Sun City, said she will have to discuss whether to bring the bill back with bikers and the Arizona Citizens Defense League, which lobbied for it.But John Dreyfus, a lobbyist with the Arizona Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, said his group will push for another bill next year.

“We’re not going away,” Dreyfus said. “They’re looking at us and saying, “Hey, they got it out of committee.’”

Dreyfus said he was unhappy with Democrats because some showed him his support and turned around to vote in a bloc.

The bill created a big splash when more than 100 bikers wearing their leathers and club insignia roared in on their Harley Davidson motorcycles Feb. 7 for a hearing in Senate Committee on Public Safety.

Bikers gave personal anecdotes of how police targeted them as outlaw bikers based on nothing more than their attire and fact they were riding a motorcycle. They said police use the pretense of legitimate traffic stops to interrogate them on the roadside about their motorcycle clubs and tattoos and inspect their motorcycles before letting them go without a citation or a citation for a minor infraction. One biker told how he was interrogated at gunpoint.

But some bikers showed up sporting Nazi symbolism, spurring Sen. Steve Gallardo to draft an amendment allowing police to use “hate symbols” as criteria for a stop. He also drafted a second amendment to add requirements for lessons on racial profiling, but he didn’t offer either one.

Dreyfus said bikers missed an opportunity when rain kept away large numbers of them Feb. 20 for a planned rally at the Capitol. He said if something isn’t done, then a motorcyclist will probably be killed by police.

– Gary Grado contributed to this report.


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