“Public safety is always our top priority,” Mayor R. Rex Parris said in the statement. “Gang activity of any kind is unacceptable in our City, and our victory in this case cements that fact.”
The Vagos International Motorcycle Club filed its lawsuit against the City of Lancaster on June 17th in federal court. The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of City Ordinance No. 953, which was approved by the Lancaster City Council on Sept. 28, 2010. The ordinance prohibits members of a criminal street gang from attending or being physically present at any “city event” with the intent to either:
- Publicize a criminal street gang’s dominance over certain territory in order to intimidate nonmembers of the gang from entering, remaining in, or using the public place or adjacent area, or
- Conceal ongoing commerce in illegal drugs or other unlawful activity.
In its lawsuit, the Vagos International Motorcycle Club claimed the City Ordinance violated their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. They also claimed that Vagos members wearing patches and paraphernalia would be targeted by law enforcement for harassment.
In a statement to the press on its website in April, the Vagos International Motorcycle club said:
“We, the Vagos Motorcycle Club, have never been, nor are we now a criminal organization, or a criminal street gang. Whoever says that we are a criminal organization or criminal street gang is misinformed and mistaken.
Our club patches are not as law enforcement would like to put it, “gang colors,” our club patches are trademarked and copyrighted symbolic speech that is protected by the United States Constitution… Simply put, the Vagos Motorcycle Club is a motorcycle club whose members choose to ride together and socialize together pursuant to our Constitutional Rights… If need be, we will file as many lawsuits as necessary to protect our constitutional right to ride our motorcycles, associate with each other, and to wear our club patches.”
After the City filed a Motion to Dismiss and the Plaintiffs failed to file an Opposition to the Motion, the judge ruled in favor of the City of Lancaster, according to the City’s statement.