‘FAMILY FRIENDLY’: Obscenity Nets Citation

POLICE AT RALLY SHUT DOWN VENDOR SELLING EXPLICIT T-SHIRTS

— Police monitoring the “family-friendly” Bikes, Blues & BBQ motorcycle rally last weekend dusted off a seldom-enforced ordinance barring distribution of obscene material and cited a vendor for selling explicit T-shirts.

According to Craig Stout, Police Department spokesman, Daniel Biede of Phoenix will face a fine of up to $500 if he’s found guilty.

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The shirts were offered for sale to thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts and others who visited the annual motorcycle rally. They reportedly featured a T-shirt that encouraged its readers to eat, drink and ride, but also to engage in sex through a word that begins with F.

A second T-shirt used a depiction of a farm animal as a way to refer to the male anatomy.

Festival organizers say they asked Biede twice to cover the messages with tape or move the merchandise to the back of his tent, where it would be less visible to passers-by. After seeing the T-shirts prominently displayed for a third time on Saturday, organizers forced him to shut down his vendor stand and police issued Biede a citation.

Biede set up his merchandise on a private lot behind Jose’s Restaurant and Cantina. The lot is run in conjunction with other rally locations for vendors, said Neal Crawford, Jose’s owner and vice chairman of Bikes, Blues & BBQ.

“We understand they’ve got an investment to be here, and we try to be as considerate as we can to that,” Crawford said Monday. “But at the end of the day, if it’s not family-friendly, we’re not doing business. The day I stop seeing (kids’) strollers is the day I’m done with the rally.”

Bikes, Blues & BBQ officials could not provide a phone number Monday for Biede. City officials did not have any information for Biede or his business. Coleson Burns, assistant director of the event, said Biede operated under the business name All or Nothing. A Facebook message left for a Daniel Biede, whose page promotes a business called All or Nothing, was not returned.

Burns said Bikes, Blues & BBQ notifies vendors of applicable city ordinances — including the one related to obscenity — in a packet they receive prior to the rally.

He said festival organizers patrol booths themselves and usually give vendors ample opportunity to make necessary changes before getting the police department involved.

Stout said officers don’t tell vendors they can’t sell adult merchandise.

“We’re just telling them to get it out of the public view,” he said.

The city ordinance regulating obscene materials has been in effect since 1973, but neither Stout nor Casey Jones, city prosecutor, could recall a single instance of it being enforced.

Stout said there’s often a fine line between obscenity and people’s right to express themselves. But, he added, there are certain exceptions, under law, to an individual’s First Amendment rights.

A person can be arrested for disorderly conduct, for example, by verbally inciting violence, Stout said.

City code prohibits people from selling, lending, renting, giving, advertising, publishing, exhibiting or otherwise disseminating obscene material, which is defined as something that, “when the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.”

Stout said the difference between a Bikes, Blues & BBQ vendor and a more permanent adult novelty store is that, with a bricks and mortar store, a customer often has to enter the store to be exposed to graphic merchandise.

“This one was out in public view,” he said. “Anybody walking past can see that.”