One of my favorite shows is Sons of Anarchy which is based on an outlaw motorcycle “club” with many subgroups throughout the United States and overseas. I am sure many of you know about this show and probably can identify that show with other American motorcycle “clubs.” One club, that has this reputation is Hells Angels. They have been categorized as an organized criminal gang. This categorization was based on a long and large history of Hells Angels’ criminal and violent background. However, I watched a documentary about how they are trying to reinvent their image. One of those ways is doing charitable works such as toys for tots, or something of the sort. It was really nice to see these tough guys riding motorcycles and carrying toys to a charity benefit.

Recently, Hells Angels are attracting media attention because they are standing up for their rights about being treated unfairly and singled out by law enforcement.  Hells Angels have been categorized as a well-known criminal organization based on its history of many members being involved in serious violent criminal activity. Last summer, Hells Angels have sued the U.S. government in federal court arguing discrimination against individual members and unfair treatment by law enforcement based on their association with the club. They argue that the individuals should be judged based on their individual actions and not be prejudged based or found guilty by association.

Obviously, law enforcement has a duty to protect citizens and pre-emptive action is a method to curb criminal activity. Those arguments are very strong arguments in the courts, especially against arguments for freedom of association. However, this case focuses on an interesting concept and will be a thought provoking topic to follow.  The question remains; where do we draw the line between law enforcement protections and freedom of association? It is an endless debate.

Ashley Spencer is a licensed attorney with The Spencer Law Firm.  The information in this blog is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of this legal subject. Readers with legal problems should consult an attorney for advice on their particular situation. The Harris County Bar Association may refer you to an attorney for legal consultation. Please email or call the Harris County Bar Association at (713) 236-8000.

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