A federal jury’s decision on Friday may require the Los Angeles-based motorcycle club, the Mongols, to forfeit its trademarked logo. The jury was tasked with determining whether the club’s logo was closely linked to criminal activities; and, on one count, conspiracy to commit racketeering, the jury agreed with prosecutors. If a federal judge upholds the decision, the Mongols will lose legal interest in their logo, and law enforcement officers can strip members of their possessions, such as club jackets, if they are found wearing clothing displaying the logo.
Lost Sense of Identity
Like many other company or club logos, the Mongols’ logo, which features a Genghis Khan-like figure riding atop a motorcycle, establishes group identity and solidarity. Prosecutors, however, argued during the case that the logo gives members a sense of entitlement and power, contributing to a culture of violence.
Federal prosecutors feel that stripping the club of their logo is the first step in dismantling the group, as it will deny the Mongols their sense of identity. The jury’s decision has the potential to negatively impact other motorcycle clubs that have been closely watched by law enforcement. Clubs bearing a recognizable symbol may be at risk of being targeted in the same way as the Mongols.
Motion for Acquittal Filed
Lawyers for the Mongols have filed a motion for acquittal, as the verdict could violate 1st Amendment rights. The logo is the club’s identity and the way its members express themselves. To order the Mongols to forfeit that logo takes away their freedom of expression. The judge will review the arguments for acquittal before deciding whether the club will be required to forfeit their logo.
Club Found Guilty in Racketeering Case
Last month, a federal jury sided with prosecutors and delivered a guilty verdict on charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering filed against the Mongols, which brought the government closer to stripping the club of its logo. The Mongols’ lawyers argued that the club as a whole is being held accountable for the actions of individuals and the Mongols are not a violent gang that supports illegal acts.
For decades, federal prosecutors have considered the Mongols a violent gang involved in murder, attempted murder, and drug dealing. In 2008, three years after four undercover agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives infiltrated and became full members of the Mongols, nearly 80 members of the club were found guilty of racketeering. Prosecutors have been trying to strip the club of their logo since then.
(Read the full article from The New York Times here.)
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