PROVIDENCE — A Burrillville man is accusing the town of violating his constitutional rights by revoking his permit to carry a concealed weapon based on his alleged affiliation with motorcycle gangs.
Pedro Alvarez Jr., of 98 Kennedy Lane, sued the town, Police Chief Stephen Lynch and the Police Department in U.S. District Court, alleging that the town violated his right to bear arms, due process rights, and First Amendment right to free association by revoking his permit based on photographs that allegedly showed him with biker gang members. He is seeking unspecified damages and the reinstatement of his permit.
″[Alvarez] is a law abiding individual, competent in the safe handling of weapons. Plaintiff has also possessed a concealed carry permit, without incident. Accordingly, there exists no reason to revoke or deny Plaintiff’s continued permit,” Alvarez’s lawyer, Matthew L. Fabisch wrote.
According to the lawsuit, the department issued Alvarez a permit to carry a concealed weapon in January 2017 after reviewing his application and completing a background check. Six months later, on June 8, 2018, Lt. Brian Pitts informed him that his permit had been revoked over his alleged affiliation with a biker gang. Pitts told him the department had “already made the decision” to revoke his permit and that he would not be granted a hearing.
Lynch sent Alvarez a letter alleging that photographs on his Facebook page showed him socializing and being in close company with the leader of and officers of the Thug Riders and Pagan motorcycle gangs, the suit says. Alvarez insists that he has never been a member or associate of any motorcycle gang and has never been charged with a crime.
At the time of the revocation, Alvarez was a U.S. Army recruit slated to attend basic training in February and enroll in school to become a military police officer — a post that he currently holds with the Rhode Island National Guard, the suit says.
Alvarez asserts that he is a suitable person to have a permit and that he intends to use it for self-defense, firearms collecting and to pursue job opportunities. State law specifies that a town shall issue a permit to any person who is at least 21 years old “if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear an injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol or revolver, and that he or she is a suitable person to be licensed.”
Alvarez alleges that the revocation limits his employment opportunities and the security clearances he can obtain.
Reached Friday, Lynch said he was not aware of the lawsuit but said he cannot comment on pending litigation. Fabisch did not immediately return a phone call.