Posts tagged Pagans
In Camden, New Jersey the Pagans motorcycle club has found itself in a dispute with local police over the use of their colors. If you don’t know, the “colors” are a club’s custom motorcycle club patches adorning the back of their leather vests and jackets. In the case of the Pagans, their colors aren’t widely known outside their areas of operation because the group tends to keep to themselves and avoid drawing attention. However, that didn’t help them in July 2009 as a group traveled down the highway in Southampton.
Riding with a fellow biker from the Tribe motorcycle club, two Pagans were pulled over by local police allegedly because of illegal helmets. The Pagans claimed their helmets were perfectly legal, a claim that held up later in court. Furthermore, they believe the real reason they were pulled over is because the police wanted to remove their colors. According to videotaped evidence of the traffic stop one of the officers indeed had demanded the men’s remove their vests because, as the officer claimed, “on these highways these are the only colors [police uniform] you wear.”
Nearly 3 years after the fact the Pagans are suing the police in a question over a violation of their constitutional rights. They make the case that they have freedom according to the First Amendment to wear their colors as they choose. A judge with the U.S. District Court agreed, allowing the case to proceed. We’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
Results of the case will set an important precedent for not only the Pagans but for motorcycle clubs around the country. Their colors are an import ant part of their identity; one that could potentially be lost if they lose the case.
As US Route 1 makes its way through the state of Pennsylvania it passes through Delaware County. Along the route you’ll find the businesses, offices, and residential properties typical of any major U.S. coastal highway. But you’ll also find a quiet little house being rented by the Pagans motorcycle club.
When the Pagans first moved in last year, there was plenty of concern over the kind of attention the house would draw. Right next door is a senior living community fearful that seasonal residents would not come back if the Pagans remained. Last year over Labor Day weekend, the local police even parked a couple of cruisers in the vicinity and monitored the clubhouse. As it happened, it was all for naught.
The Pagans have turned out to be pretty good neighbors in Delaware County. The clubhouse is mostly vacant during the week, and their weekend gatherings are nothing like they’re made out to be on the Internet. The biggest complaint neighbors have had is the noise of motorcycles coming and going late at night. Beyond that, all has remained relatively quiet. There’s even a sign on the clubhouse door prohibiting drugs, guns, and bad attitudes. What more could you ask?
It’s easy to be concerned by organized motorcycle clubs, especially when you see the custom club patches they wear on their vests and jackets. It’s not uncommon for a club patch to feature flames, skulls, and other such symbols of male motorcycle bravado. But in reality, the Pagans are a group that likes to keep to themselves. They have no website, no media relations officer, and no desire to make a name for themselves. And as the residence of Delaware County have found out, there’s no need to be afraid. The Pagans are good neighbors after all.