Bikers can roll with ‘colors’ suit

Posted: April 02, 2012

Getting pulled over just for wearing "colors" really ticks off outlaw motorcycle clubs, a local attorney who's represented them said, and now some of them are allowed to take out their frustrations in court.

In an opinion issued last week, U.S. District Court Judge Jerome Simandle in Camden said two members of the Pagan's Motorcycle Club and one Tribe Motorcycle Club member can move forward with a lawsuit stemming from a July 30, 2009, traffic stop involving six motorcycles in Burlington County where New Jersey State Troopers ordered them to remove their "colors," the members' patched jackets.

"The court has basically said, 'yes you have a right to wear a patch, these logos," said Norristown attorney Boyd Spencer, who represents the Eastern Pa. Confederation of Clubs.

The group of bikers were on their way to a beef and beer event when they were pulled over. The bikers were ticketed for not having approved helmets, the original complaint alleges, and were told to remove their colors if they wanted to leave. The whole traffic stop, which lasted more than an hour, was captured by mounted cameras in the police cruisers.

"Now you're all going to take your jackets off, because on this highway, these are the only colors," one of the state troopers told the group after nearly 50 minutes had passed, referring to State Police blue and gold.

None of the bikers removed their colors, and at a later municipal court hearing, the helmets were found to be legal and a prosecutor dismissed the charges.

The state filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit but Simandle, in his ruling said the plaintiffs "sufficiently alleged deprivations of a clearly established constitutional right." Simandle dismissed a conspiracy allegation and claims that the bikers were denied due process.

"We had a little wound here and there but definitely, this is a victory," Spencer said.

A spokesman for the state declined to comment Monday.

Contact Jason Nark at 215-854-5916 or narkj@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @JasonNark.

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