... about rights:
Defiant Hells Angel says police checks on Vancouver Island crossed legal line
A Hells Angels veteran says police overstepped their legal boundaries by stopping 150 members on Vancouver Island on Saturday in an effort to conduct document and safety checks — a move that halted traffic for 20 minutes.
Rick Ciarniello, who was riding up front and refused to comply with police requests to pull over, said the same thing happened outside Calgary in 1997, and the group launched a constitutional challenge. "[After] two years in court, we got a decision saying arbitrary road stops like that are not legal."
Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, spokesman for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C., said it was unusual for police to stop so many Hells Angels motorcyclists, one of the largest rides in recent memory, but it was necessary for public safety.
When police stopped the bikers on the Trans-Canada Highway near Duncan about 2 p.m., Ciarniello saw no reason to obey.
"I didn't consider that any order that they wanted was a legal order and I refused to do it," he said.
"They tried to get me to say I refused the lawful order of a police officer and I said, 'No — what I'm refusing is for you to violate my charter rights.' "
Police are allowed to stop motorists to check licence and registration, but they are not allowed to single out a group of motorists arbitrarily, Ciarniello said.
Before the Hells Angels won their court case, police used mass traffic stops to gather intelligence on the bikers, he said.
"I spent a lot of money on that and we won, and I'm not going to fight it every week," said Ciarniello, who disputes police allegations that the bikers were speeding or going through red lights. "Our instructions to everybody was to stop at all red lights."
After a brief discussion, the police allowed the bikers to continue on to Victoria.
The Hells Angels are connected to a long list of criminal activities, including murder, Houghton said.
"There is potentially a very real risk to public safety when these people are out on the road . . . and we monitor them very closely — very, very closely in the case of Saturday."
The entire procession was both photographed and videotaped, Houghton said, adding every licence plate was recorded and tickets for violations will be issued to registered owners.