Cynthia Collier, Gloucester County Times
Harley-Davidson riders and other motorcyclists are customarily split into two distinct groups – motorcycle enthusiasts and bikers.
The two factions mix at rallies and other events, but outside of a love of motorized “hogs,” they range from police to professionals to punks.
“Motorcyclists are a tight knit group, as are people who polka dance,” said Williamstown attorney Jerry Friedman.
“The rallies and the events are the most peaceful things I’ve ever seen. It’s a Woodstock thing,” Friedman said. “There’s more tension and aggression at an Eagles game.”
Friedman is a member of several motorcycle clubs as well as a lawyer who specialized in motorcycle-related cases.
Friedman rides for fun, but it’s also the heart of his law practice. His business cards show the classic blindfolded lady of justice holding a scale, but with one difference; she’s standing by a motorcycle.
When Friedman is riding his Harley and wearing a leather jacket, it’s impossible to tell whether he’s an attorney, or something else, something more sinister.
That’s why people shouldn’t make assumptions about riders, he said.
“I hate the word ‘biker.’ They have the same civil rights as everybody else,” Friedman said.
“I’ve been riding since high school. I’ve never been stopped by a police officer while on a motorcycle. I have been witness to situations when police stopped people,” Friedman said. “I’m aware of other people who’ve been hassled and for no reason.”
Franklin Township Police Chief James Barnum said police officers know better than to stop someone just because they are on a motorcycle.
“The stop has to be made with probable cause and that’s the extent of it,” Barnum said.
Even if a biker is wearing a gang insignia, you better have a reason before you pull them over, police are taught.
“That you should stop them, that flies in the face of what we are taught,” Barnum said. “You cannot stop somebody because you have a gut feeling. You need to articulate probable cause for a stop.”
Still, some bars and clubs won’t let guys in if they are wearing leather club jackets, Friedman said.
“That happens all the time. The whole thing is silly and it is probably a violation of their civil rights. It may one day come to a lawsuit,” Friedman said.