“If the court grants our request … then if any law enforcement officer sees a Mongol wearing his patch, he will be authorized to stop that gang member and literally take the jacket right off his back.” – U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien
“The government can’t ban confederate flags, swastikas, or klan robes, and it sure as hell can’t ban the display of the Mongols’ logo.” – Marc J. Randazza
“What if the government had decided that, because of the Watergate scandal, nobody could use the word Republican again? – Zeichner Ellman
The Justice Department indicted 79 members of the Mongol Nation Motorcycle club for racketeering on October 21. The indictment included federal seizure of the “Mongols” trademarked name.
The case hasn’t even gone to trial yet , but U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper has authorized the seizure of the defendants’ . . .
* Clothing, motorcycles, and other property bearing the Mongols trademark.
* Any similar property bearing the trademark that belongs to the defendants’ “agents, servants, employees, family members, and those persons in active concert or participation with them.”
In other words, many people who weren’t even indicted will have their property seized.
This ruling has serious problems . . .
* In April, Mongol Nation transferred its trademark to Shotgun Productions, LLC, in April, a company that isn’t even named in the indictment.
* Prohibiting possession of trademarked items sets a dangerous precedent. If the government for some reason seizes the Nike swoosh, could FBI agents strip Tiger Woods of his cap, shirt, and shoes?
Civil asset forfeiture was already wrong. The government has no right to seize property without a trial and conviction. But now Judge Cooper and the Justice Department have taken it to a whole new level . . .
* An organization could lose its trademark because of the alleged crimes of some of its members.
* Normal asset forfeiture only seizes property alleged to have been used for illegal purposes, but now the government can take property simply because it sports the wrong logo!
* People completely unrelated to any indictment are now having their property seized too!
Civil asset forfeiture already violates the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution. Now it endangers the First Amendment too. Government officials could trump-up charges against any organization they don’t like, seize its name, and put it out of business! It could happen to DownsizeDC.org!
This will chill freedom of expression.
Civil asset forfeiture must die. Use our Educate the Powerful System to tell Congress to repeal civil asset forfeiture.
Use your personal comments to tell Congress . . .
* About the Mongol case
* That’s its wrong for the government to seize property without due process and a conviction
* And even more wrong to seize property simply because it sports a legally-obtained, trademarked logo.
Demand that Congress abolish civil asset .forfeiture.
Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC army.
And a hat tip to The Legal Satyricon blog for providing links to government documents.
Assistant to the President
This is really slick. I hadn’t considered such an action. Asset forfeiture has generally been able to continue do to its reach. It effects few and often those who are accused or convicted of a crime taking advantage of the fact that many do not wish to be associated with criminals and therefore will not stand up for their rights. However, should that reach grow as it has in this particular case perhaps there will be more public outrage. Then again perhaps not. Eminent domain has been more and more abused recently with relatively little increase in response.