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Motorcycle club claims harassment. Sonora police asks the public to watch the video

Published in 1%er News and All News

The Sonora Police Department put out a message on Facebook regarding this YouTube video, in which bikers accuse members of the Police Department of profiling local bikers. Warning: Graphic content. YouTube video by Jus Brothers Nate Smith

A video posted on YouTube last week shows members of the Jus Brothers motorcycle club criticizing a police sergeant who photographed the license plates on their parked motorcycles.

The motorcycle club members in the video, which had more than 14,700 views on Wednesday morning, say they were doing nothing wrong when the Sonora police sergeant started harassing them. They say police unlawfully profiled the club members as a motorcycle gang in the incident that appeared to have occurred in downtown Sonora.

"Taking pictures of their license plates for no reason," one of the motorcycle club members says as the video begins. "We get this kind of hassle from Sonora PD all the time."

The Sonora Police Department on Tuesday issued a news release, responding to the allegations of profiling local bikers. Department officials wanted to remind the public that just because a online video gets a large amount views doesn't mean the allegations have any validity.

"The police sergeant in the video was simply engaging in intelligence gathering on a public street," according to the police news release. "These actions do not fall under the category of profiling as it is defined in California, and there were no detentions made during this contact."

The club members tell the police sergeant in the video that they plan on posting the video online with the department's phone number, so callers can tell officials what think of this.

"That way America can see what it's like to live in a police state," the motorcycle club member says.

The police sergeant in the video tells the Jus Brothers members that it's a public street, there has to be proof that the parked motorcycles are registered, and that he's just doing his job.

"We have an obligation to remain vigilant to all circumstances that may affect the safety and well-being of our community," department officials said in the news release.

Another Jus Brothers member asks the sergeant in the video if police will do the same to the other vehicles parked along the street? The sergeant seems to indicate they're only doing this to "outlaw motorcycle gangs."

The FBI identifies outlaw motorcycle gangs in its 2015 National Gang Report as a group of that's involved in a pattern of criminal conduct, in which members are required to possess and operate a motorcycle to maintain membership.

Jus Brothers is a motorcycle club that was founded in 1990 with chapters throughout the Northern California, including Stanislaus County, Stockton, Tracy and San Jose. The Stanislaus group on its Facebook page asked other bikers to call Sonora police and tell them profiling will not be tolerated.

Sonora police officials said they will not be dissuaded and will continue to do their work with professionalism and fairness.

"The act of encouraging callers across the nation to flood our call center and post negative comments on our social media is what we believe to be a tactic intended to discourage our community safety efforts," police said in the news release.

Officials attached to the police news release an online link to the YouTube video. The Police Department cautioned its Facebook audience that the video contained profanity and threats of physical harm to the police sergeant and an officer involved in the incident.

The Modesto Bee on Tuesday called Sonora police, but a supervising sergeant did not respond to questions about the incident. Sonora Police Chief Turu VanderWiel was not available for comment. The Bee also sent a message to the Jus Brothers member who posted the video online, but there was no response as of Tuesday afternoon.

In the video, the Jus Brothers members tell the police sergeant a recently approved state law makes police profiling motorcycle clubs unlawful. But the new law the members are speaking of, state Assembly Bill 2972, has not been enacted.

The bill would prohibit peace officers from engaging in “motorcycle profiling,” considering a person riding a motorcycle or wearing motorcycle or motorcycle club-related clothing as a factor in enforcement decisions.

AB 2972 was introduced on Feb. 16 by state Assemblymember Anna Caballero (D-Salinas). The bill passed in an April 10 Public Safety Committee with a vote of 5-2, but it failed in an April 19 Assembly Floor vote of 28-21.

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