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Was WSP out of line on motorcycle lobbying day?

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on March 27, 2009 at 11:15 am with No Comments »
March 27, 2009 11:15 am

Check out story from our sister paper and You Tube video footage of a state trooper nosing around the bikes.

By Jeremy Pawloski

The Olympian

A lawyer representing several Washington motorcycle groups wrote an angry letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire protesting Washington State Patrol’s recent surveillance activity at the Capitol, photographing license plates of motorcyclists who were there to advocate for issues important to them.

“I may be old school, but I always thought that the Capitol was supposed to be a sanctuary for free speech and assembly, and not an opportunity for clandestine intelligence gathering on citizens trying to be involved in the political process,” Seattle attorney Martin Fox wrote.

Fox distributed his letter to numerous Washington media outlets, along with a DVD with images of a trooper “crawling around the bushes of the Capitol to record license plate numbers of motorcycles into his tape machine,” the letter reads.

The trooper recorded the license plate numbers of motorcycles at the Capitol on Jan. 22.

State Patrol Sgt. Freddy Williams said it was done because troopers saw members of outlaw motorcycle gangs who were “flying their colors” — wearing clothing or apparel emblazoned with their gang’s name.

Williams said some were members of the Bandidos and Gypsy Jokers, both motorcycle gangs. He said those gangs have participated in organized criminal activity and have a “proven history of violence against each other and other people.”

Williams said the trooper recorded license plate numbers in a non-intrusive manner so the patrol would have a way of finding out who was present, “should any violence have occurred.”

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