"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -- Ben Franklin
Judge Not That Ye Be Not Judged: A disparaging attitude toward those who are different breeds fear. And fear produces the profiling, and the consequential limitations of freedom, bikers experience world-wide.
A bigoted social mentality has empowered the United States government to place multiple international members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club on a no-entry list -- under the guise of the Patriot Act -- while engaging little, if any, public outcry.
Fair Disclosure: I'm not part of the biker culture. In actuality, I'm a Middle American, fairly conservative, church girl. And I'll be the first to admit, I'm pretty darn judgmental. Always have been.
Yes, I know it's wrong. And yes, I'm working on it. Really I am. Feel free to check-in later for a progress update.
But I can assure you, I don't need a twelve-step recovery program. I'm already enrolled in the unofficial Sonny Barger, "Get-Over-Yourself-Candy-You're-Not-Better-Than-Anyone-Else," one step program.
How did that happen? Despite our vast differences, I've been close friends with Sonny for over three decades. And if there's one thing I know for sure -- he's a man of integrity.
So, when Sonny addresses my predisposition to be judgmental, I pay attention. In reality, I've gained more wisdom from this individual, than I have listening to a thousand sermons.
The Sit Down: Recently, Sonny shared what he considers might be a U.S Justice Department vendetta against his club, initiated, in part, by former Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano.
"It started with a federal program intended to infiltrate the club," Sonny explained over lunch, "They called it Operation Black Biscuit."
"Wait... what? Did you say, Operation Black Biscuit?" I stammered, realizing the project's code-name sounded, uh... slightly 007ish.
After assuring me that I'd heard correctly, Sonny suggested I write an article after conducting additional research. I agreed. And here's what I found...
Operation Black Biscuit: The project began when the U.S government decided to infiltrate the club. In an attempt to entrap members from Arizona -- a state, then, under the helm of Governor Janet Napolitano -- the feds enlisted the help of local law enforcement.
Seeking the Cave Creek charter's computer, agents were determined to gain possession the hard way. Rather than simply knocking on the door -- with warrant in hand -- officers chose the more costly, and vastly more dramatic, super-spy method.
So, on July 8, 2003, a SWAT team showed up at the Cave Creek clubhouse prepared for battle. After hurling flash grenades through the windows, shooting the guard dog and ramming the building with an armored vehicle, the club's prospect opened the door to see what was happening.
The moment he emerged, Officer Laura Beeler panicked and repeatedly opened fire -- wounding the prospect. Initially, Beeler claimed she shot in response to his gunfire, but that just wasn't the case. Evidence revealed the prospect's weapon hadn't been discharged.
And the computer? After months of study, and to law enforcement's chagrin, the hard-drive bore no signs of criminal activity. None.
Soon afterward, officers endured additional setbacks when a Maricopa County judge deemed the raid unlawful, noting the prospect acted reasonably under chaotic circumstances.
The Case: When things shook out: Sixteen club members, from other charters, were indicted on federal racketeering charges.
However, despite the indictments, law enforcement was on a downward slide. When federal ATF agents and U.S. prosecutors began fighting among themselves, the case went south.
In the end, all the indicted were either released, or able to plea-out on far lesser charges. None of the more serious federal racketeering charges stuck. Not one.
In retrospect, many legal historians view Operation Black Biscuit as a failure.
The White House: In 2009, former Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano, was appointed by President Obama to become Chief of Homeland Security. So, she packed her bags and headed for Washington D.C. Unfortunately for the club, her suitcases had just enough room to hold a pretty big vendetta.
And in classic hell-hath-no-fury style, guess who remained at the top of her pay-back list?
A Wide Legal Net: Utilizing the Patriot Act, (a provision intended to guard our nation against terrorists after 9/11, but which is often misused to strip freedom from innocent individuals without due process) Janet Napolitono placed multiple Angels, as well as their friends, family and supporters, on a no U.S. entry roster.
Many of these individuals have no criminal record, yet are assigned to a register that precludes them from entering the United State for any reason -- including weddings, visiting sick relatives and attending funerals.
Muddy Waters: Some of the impacted have been unaware they're on national entry restriction (heads up: the government is not required to inform anyone), until they've landed at an airport and been abruptly arrested.
While Homeland Security has free-rein to add any person, or group, they darn well please, the U.S. Attorney General retains final authority.
Those who wish to challenge a no-entry status can have their names removed via a successful legal challenge against the United States Government. But remember, this is the same government that doesn't bother to inform individuals they're on the list in the first place.
Following the crazy trail? Thought so.
Trump and Hillary: Recently, Donald Trump suggested Muslims should be temporarily banned from entering the United States, until we can better sort out the potential risks. In a sanctimonious response, Hillary Clinton claimed such tactics would contribute to the unfair profiling of innocent people.
Oddly enough, when Hillary was Secretary of State, she had absolutely no problem contributing to the international profiling of club members and their associates.
Before you assume I'm waving my pom-poms for either candidate -- let me assure you, I'm not. For all I know, Trump would ban Angel travel as well.
This is not about campaigns. This is about freedom. It's about a knee-jerk judgmental attitude that reproduces discrimination.
And it's about hypocrisy.
The Bottom Line: On some level, we all judge. It's human nature. We tend to fear those different than ourselves. Those who walk differently. Talk differently. Dress differently. Live differently.
And it's clear -- much of Middle America is apprehensive about bikers. Unfortunately, this is the catalyst for legislative injustice. Divide and conquer. Works every time.
Government embraces social anxiety, garnered from people riddled by a bigoted pre-disposition, to authorize spending your tax dollars on crazy-ass 007 projects, pitting neighbor against neighbor. So, when you judge someone simply for being different, remember the cost.
Oh, and the price of freedom. Yeah, remember that too.
Candy Chand is a writer living in Cave Creek, AZ. She's been interviewed on Fox &Friends, NPR and PBS. Message, and follow, her on Facebook @ Candy Chand--Writer