What could possibly draw the attention of British and American motorcycle clubs to watch what the Nordic countries are doing?
There are efforts in both Sweden and Finland to legally ban the wearing of vests (aka colors) by members of motorcycle clubs.
Sweden’s Social Democrat justice policy spokesperson Morgan Johansson, “the vests are what these characters use to strike fear in those around them, they signal I am a member of Hells Angels or Bandidos or whatever and I'm dangerous.” Up until now, the vests have received constitutional protections under Sweden's freedom of speech laws, thus abating local authorities' earlier attempts to initiate bans.
Johansson has proposed giving officials in Sweden's 290 municipalities the authority to ban vests with biker gang symbols from being worn in local bars and nightclubs. He believes that banning vests would be a useful tool in the fight against organized criminal activity.
Johansson's suggested vest ban was rejected by both the Left Party and the Liberals. The far-right Sweden Democrats, however, expressed support for the idea and the Christian Democrats are uncommitted leaving the door open for a vest ban.
Lawmakers in Finland are also discussing the possibility of a nationwide ban on motorcycle gang vests.
MPs Kari Tolvanen and Tom Packalén recently proposed, the government should outlaw the wearing of vests bearing patches associated with groups recognized as criminal gangs. Anna-Maja Henriksson of the Swedish People’s Party said that she is doubtful that implementing such a law would be feasible. Päivi Räsänen a Christian Democrat said he would support such a move.
Justice Minister Henriksson said that such legislation would create problems. She said, “It seems far-fetched. There would be demarcation problems about what type of a vest would be allowed and what type would not.”
Helsinki Detective Superintendent, Jari Aarnio said Helsinki’s gang problem was already under control and that allowing them to wear gang insignia actually makes it easier to identify those that are part of criminal groups, he also said the he was not in favor of the ban.
This idea seems like anathema to the fundamental principles of freedom of speech & freedom of expression. What about other uniforms that connote membership, danger and appeal to a larger group. Police apparel? Military uniforms? Cleric garb? I don't see anybody calling for the banning of the bhurka which could be considered equally offensive by some. The main reason British and American bikers are watching this so closely is to see if this will jump the pond and come to their shores.
I would be against such legislation in the U.S., let them wear the vests and their colors, at least we’ll have an ability to recognize them on sight.