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Vagos M/C Issues Statement Over Southern Oregon Court ProceedingsMark Schiller Special to Salem-News.com
"Had he not been a member of the Vagos motorcycle club, this case would have never gone this far... actions like this have not been tolerated since segregation" - Mark Schiller, Vagos M/C
(GRANTS PASS) - There are many types of Clubs: social clubs, Car clubs, Civic clubs, military clubs to name a few. I am a member of a motorcycle club called "Vagos".
Law Enforcement doesn't have to take photos off our Facebook, drag our patch (vest) into court or take pictures of me when I am not looking, just ask me!! We teach our kids that Law enforcement is there to help people. We teach them to respect themselves and others just like everyone else does.
We come from broken families, Good families, we're foster kids and we take in foster kids, so we understand the hardships and struggles of parenting, and what its like to not have parents.
We are doctors, Carpenters, construction workers, lawyers, teachers and business owners of society. Now to have a court system that is allowing prejudice and hatred to be the mainstay of a prosecution, this is a miscarriage of justice and abuse of police powers of the State. This is wrong!
Motorcycle clubs are not Gangs. We're not signing a paper to get out of trouble saying we are a gang because that would be a bold face lie!
Membership is not illegal, holding a honorable position in a club is not illegal. We support several charitable fund raisers, toys for tots, children's foster care, breast cancer just to name a few. Our club helps when it can. Whether it be money, toys or just time and fellowship.
We pay taxes and vote, we have families, we struggle with all the things in day to day living just like everyone else.
Our city of Grants Pass, Oregon is having budget issues and has for awhile. Now there is a Chief ADA who is prosecuting people simply for being M\C members. That office isn't interested in prosecuting a crime if they feel they can convict a club member. It's a form of racism that is accepted in very few courts. It is none the less Xenophobia alive and well!
Recently, a member was on trial for alleged assault. All he was prosecuted for was being a club member. They criticized him for the color of the walls in his house. They slandered his friends, his associations, his family; anyone connected to him or the club he belongs to. All done with a malicious intent and open hatred of the Vagos M/C, going to the point of making an issue of his green tennis shoes or if anyone in the court room there to support him was wearing green. Green being the main color of our club.
The court allowed the news media to be present in the court room and to make reports on the court activities while telling everyone else there not to talk about the case. This taints any further jury members and had effect on this jury.
My friend's trial ended in a hung jury. When the jury was poled, it was 8 not guilty, 4 guilty. The district attorneys office is allowing the open prejudice of the ADA to rule the courts time and efforts. Whether it is the ADA or false information she is receiving, it should not be fast tracked and thrown at a M/C member just for publicity and propaganda to sway a jury.
We have the same rights as every other person in this country. The right to associate with the people we want to, to wear the color of our choice, freedom of religion and to speak about how we feel and what we believe in.
The rule we all are taught is "innocent until proven guilty" which is not applying in these circumstances.
A passionate attorney is a good thing. But to allow that passion to be tainted by a prejudice is a miscarriage of justice. Guilty by association is not supposed to be the allowed rule.
In a not too distant past, racism was ruled unjust and wrong! Now, all that has happened is that prejudice and hatred is being redirected to a different type of persons. We are not a gang. We do not advocate illegal activities, we don't promote crimes, and we are not involved in the criminal activities that the prosecutors say we are.
We have zero tolerance to substance abuse, drug use, and criminal activity that could affect this motorcycle club. We constantly find ourselves needing to be defended in court, fighting for the civil rights that our children are taught to take for granted.
We are persecuted because we're in a motorcycle club, because we ride motorcycles, because of a hatred and fear of not knowing us as people.
During a recent trial, a juror's close family member was present. She made a comment outside the courtroom to a deputy, "Bout time the Vagos get what they had coming to them". We don't know her and she has never had any issues with us. He reported to the judge what she had said. The jury member was allowed to stay on the jury even with this type of prejudiced comment being made.
Many members of this club have served this country in the Armed Forces and some still do, and our kids still will.
We teach our children that it's about justice ad honesty; it's not just about a conviction of anyone, let alone a motorcycle club member.
My name and several of my friends names were brought up in court. Does this make us "bad" people? The ADA said we are.
When a person is found not-guilty, there is no celebration because it has taken money from our families to hire attorneys to fight these false allegations.
It's either that, or we end up in prison for crimes we have not committed, and that harms our families as well, it places our kids without parents and families without support.
Racism, Xenophobia and prejudice is more than hating a person because of his color or his affiliations. It's hating everything about him or her and goes so far as to hating his friends, his family, even the color he paints his walls and the color of the shoestrings their children wear. It's so very wrong and opposed to what we are supposed to be teaching our children.
Had he not been a member of the Vagos motorcycle club, this case would have never gone this far and cost him and the taxpayers so much in wasted money and time; actions like this have not been tolerated since segregation. Motorcycle clubs are the least of their problems!!
We have been slandered and falsely accused, persecuted, followed and harassed because of these prejudices that have no basis in fact. If what was said about us in the court room was true, myself and my friends wouldn't be members of this motorcycle club or anything that was endorsing those type of activities. We are blue collar workers, in the working class, and our children go to the same schools.
Motorcycle clubs, car clubs, American Legion clubs are not illegal... neither is membership, but we are persecuted in few small towns like this because we are members of the biker community. Its been a long time since I was a boy scout, but the last time I checked, there is not a merit badge for taking parents from their kids and kids from their parents for a career advance.
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