US Senate votes against rider profiling

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While Australian states are ramping up their anti-association laws that profile riders as potential outlaws, the US Senate has unanimously passed a motorcyclist anti-profiling resolution.

This follows an American Motorcyclist Association survey finding that half of American motorcyclists say they have been profiled by police pulling them over.

There is no such survey in Australia, but anecdotal evidence shows that riders have been pulled over for licence and bike checks by police.

They say only riders have been pulled over while cars and other vehicles are allowed to pass.

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Police recently pulled over riders on the Gold Coast hinterland

Some have been riding cruisers and wearing similar gear to the so-called outlaw gangs or bikies, but others have been riding bikes such as adventurers, tourers and sports machines.

Laws, such as Queensland’s ludicrously named Vicious Lawless Associates Disestablishment or “VLAD” Act of 2013, are allowing police extra powers to harass riders.

(VLAD was replaced in 2016 by the Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Bill with the less evil-sounding acronym, SOCLAB, but only slightly watered-down police powers.)

Many other states have also ramped up their anti-association laws in order to put more pressure on perceived criminal activity in motorcycle clubs.

As recently as September, Tasmania planned laws that include a ban on outlaw motorcycle gang “colours”.

The Victorian Motorcycle Riders Association believes this vilification of riders is yet another nail in the coffin for motorcycling.

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The unanimous Senate vote “urges state law enforcement officials to condemn motorcyclist profiling in their policies and training materials”.

It is a surprise given the Senate is dominated by Republicans, although it does not have any force in law.

The resolution would also have to be passed in Congress where it could have a lot of support.

After all, in 2015, Congress banned federal highway funding of motorcycle-only checkpoints.

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