MILAM COUNTY, Texas — The Sons of Liberty Motorcycle Club is calling on their riders to help change public perception, and ultimately state law, to prevent club riders from being profiled as criminals.
Dozens of bikers rallied at the Milam County courthouse Saturday after a local biker was arrested and changed with unlicensed carrying of a weapon.
Court documents show Patrick Vaden had a hearing in Milam County on that charge in September.
Son's of Liberty VP Mel Robbins told 6 News the biker was a member of the Bandidos MC and the case would go to trial in October.
Multiple riders spoke about the case, which they called an injustice.
One of the bikers who spoke on the case was Paul Landers, who was one of the individuals arrested and ultimately cleared of charges after the shooting at Twin Peaks in 2015.
"What difference does this make, in Milam county, to charge this man unlawfully, to ruin his reputation and credibility, to put his family though this ridiculous nonsense?" Landers said. "This will be dismissed in a court of law. Mark my works: It will be dismissed."
Landers called other bikers at the rally to help repair the image of motorcycle clubs.
"You need to change the perception of the people you work with at church, on your job," Landers said.
Mel Robbins told 6 News he worried law enforcement was using existing laws differently to stop and question bikers on the road.
"Law enforcement is out there reading it [Texas law] the way they want to... finding little sentences and harassing people," Robbins said.
Robbins said some law enforcement was stopping bikers from riding "peg to peg" or side by side, despite there being no law prohibiting the practice.
"They have taken a sentence in the criminal code that says, 'If you are making a pubic distraction you can't do it,'" Robbins said.
Robbins said Vaden was pulled over for going seven miles over the speed limit and arrested for carrying a concealed weapon illegally, even though Vaden had possessed a concealed carry permit for years.
Robbins said that as far as he knows, Vaden never lost the right to concealed carry.
6 News could not find any criminal history for Vaden across multiple databases.
Robbins said, regardless, Vaden will be in court again Oct. 21.
Another speaker, Chris Ward, told 6 News several clubs are now working to push for legislation that would prevent law enforcement from profiling biker clubs.
"We have a brand new legislative session coming up and guess what? The barrels are loaded," Ward said to the crowd. "We are not going to sit on our asses and wait for legislation day to start knocking on doors. We've already started."
No one at the event was able to tell 6 News how the legislation would be worded.
Ward said the arrest of Vaden is just one example of what is happening across Texas.
"This is a microcosm of what is going on in the United States and in Texas and I need you, I personally need you, to rally your friends, independents, moms, dads," Ward said. "This fight is going to go to the Capital. We are not going to stand for this anymore."
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