The following video was posted on YouTube by Jus Brothers M.C. Nate Smith. His statement on the YouTube page is at the bottom of the this blog.
To be clear, there is no illegal or unconstitutional act if a police officer decides to take photos of your motorcycle. I’ve seen on social media people post that such actions are a violation of one’s right to privacy, but that is far from true. There is no difference between me looking at your license plate and memorizing it versus taking a picture of it. Go to any bike week and people are taking photos of motorcycles all day. Think about it- can’t I see the license plate on your car or motorcycle when parked in the driveway of your own home? Of course.
But, by the same token, what is this officer’s intent when taking photos of the license plates? Is he going to go back to the station, run a check, find out if there is a tag violation, then what? Go find the owner of the bike? The first thing the cop has to do in court is identify the Defendant, in this case the owner of the motorcycle. So, imagine the cop finds a violation, then does what? Go to that person’s home and issue a citation? He can only prove that individual owns the bike, not that they were necessarily riding it that day or any other day. Maybe the owner loaned it to another brother in his club.
The reality is if the officer was looking for violations, he could have simply stood on the sidewalk and call in every tag. If there’s a hit, he sits and waits for the biker to jump on that motorcycle, cranks it up, and that is when he should be stopped. In this scenario, harassment seems to be the motivation.
Now, other than the obvious patches being worn by Jus Brothers, don’t they look like every other motorcycle rider? During the week, I’m wearing my suit. If I don’t have to go the office or court for a few days and instead I’m working from home on my next book, I stop shaving. Come the weekend, my lawyer look is gone. Trust me, I’ve had plenty of people ask me if I’m in construction because when I ride I don’t get all dressed up with Harley gear, etc. I wear jeans, a T-shirt, and construction boots. What they should do is look at my hands before they ask that question. Hence, the problem with motorcycle profiling.
Common sense dictates you cannot reach a one hundred percent conclusion with only ten percent of the facts. I suggest that the officer in this video read this link as posted on the website of the National Institute of Justice on profiling. Even though I believe this is more harassment than profiling, the fact is there is a fine line that dissects a gray area with both, and at the end of the day, this not only wasn’t necessary, it accomplished nothing. Then again, lawsuits have a way of changing all that, especially department policy.
Statement of Jus Brothers Nate Smith/YouTube
Literally a few of us were standing outside for our first Tuolumne County Bike Night which is a free event for the community which is every second Tuesday of the month. As we are waiting for locals and some out of town riders to show for our event, Sgt Hankins drives by and sees us standing in front of Intake Grill… pulls over to the side of the road and walks up and just starts taking pictures of the license plates. After he took pictures of the first two I started filming with my phone and realized that he was causing confrontation when there was clearly no reason for him to be bothering us. Sonora Police has been hassling us and profiling us for over the last 6 months. When I started filming he had already taken a picture of two bikes, that’s the only part that was missed in the beginning of this video before I started filming and the only reason I posted it is because we have had enough. I’m tired of the harassment because we are member of a motorcycle club. We have an American right to be apart of a motorcycle club and a right to assemble. Again our bike nights are a community event and everyone is welcome to attend. If I wouldn’t have released the video to the public the harassment would have been getting worse as you can tell they were continuing to harass and bother us when we were bringing business to Sonora on a Tuesday night. People are mentioning the No Parking signs, those no parking signs were dating for that coming Saturday and this Bike Night was on a Tuesday. The coming Saturday was a rodeo parade. The No Parking signs were not valid when the video was taken.
Sonora California Sonora Police Department Sgt. Hankins Sonora Police Phone Number 209-532-8143