Explain the history and culture of Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs. Is there great difference in the groups that fall under this label?
Are some White Supremacist gangs considered to be organized crime groups? Compare and contrast outlaw motorcycle clubs and White supremacist gangs.
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Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs
Abadinsky, Organized Crime 10th ed.
Most legal cases involving the Hell's Angels motorcycle club are tried in criminal court with the United States of America as plaintiff. The club is active in civil court, zealously protecting copyrights to the Hell's Angels name and their skull-and-wings "Death Head" logo. Use of these indicators of club memberships by unauthorized persons—i.e., nonmembers—dilutes the value of the brand.
The Hell's Angels and their outlaw club competitors are discussed in this chapter.
THE OUTLAW CLUB PHENOMENON
Some post-WWII combat veterans, feeling hostile and alienated toward society, formed motorcycle clubs.
Symbol of freedom from social responsibilities and restraints.
For some communities, a nuisance, even a threat.
POBOB, for “Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington.”
THE HOLLISTER INCIDENT
1947 Independence Day weekend in Hollister, CA.
Accounts vary: Either 750 cyclists tore up the town demanding the release from jail of a POBOB member; or a July 4th celebration, including motorcycle races sanctioned by the American Motorcycle Association (AMA), became too unruly for the 7-man police force.
1954 Marlon Brando-Lee Marvin movie, The Wild One, helped fuel the biker phenomenon.
ANNUAL BIKER RALLIES
July 4th run in Hollister
Labor Day run.
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: 6-days, Black Hills, S. Dakota.
10s–even 100s of 1000s participate or attend.
Vendors sell shirts and calendars.
AMA said outlaw cyclists comprise 1% of cyclists. Self-image: rebels, frontier heroes, expressing
individuality. “Hogs” are personal charms. Club is collective leverage against those who would
crush individualists. Rigid system of rules. Subculture bars (hangouts) serve as recruiting
places. Outlaw clubs are pre-adapted as vehicles of OC.
How members join.
Rights of membership.
Restrictions on members’ behavior.
Reduce potential for intra-organizational conflicts.
Rigid organizational structure.
Heavy levels of commitment.
Mother club is national or international headquarters.
Decides problems locals unable to solve.
Chapter autonomy varies among clubs.
Some make important decisions at regional, national, or international meetings.
Chapter has president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer, enforcer, sergeant-at-arms, road captain.
Road captain plans, takes charge of club “runs.”
Members are required to participate in these outings.
“Colors,” the “patch,” are the official club insignia.
Worn on the back of a denim or leather jacket.
3 separate sections, called “rockers.”
Top: club name
Center: club emblem.
Bottom: club location or territory.
May be worn as tattoos. Required in Hell’s Angels.
Swastika, sign of Satan, FTW, 1% offensive patches are also “authorized.”
HELL’S ANGELS: DEFENDING THE BRAND
The patch is owned by the club.
Unauthorized use is challenged in court.
15 trademark infringement cases in the past decade against a wide range of defendants.
Marvel Comics renamed its Hells Angels comic book "Dark Angel."
2006: Sued Walt Disney Co.–script for movie "Wild Hogs.” Characters were Hells Angels and wore Hells Angels trademarked logo.
2010: Sued Alexander McQueen, Saks 5th Ave, and Zappos, for selling handbags, jewelry, and clothing with "Death Head.”
Clubs limit chapter membership to about 25
Strong bond, facilitates decision-making.
6 “full-patch” members.
“Strikers” (prospects) on probationary status.
“Hangarounds,” usually hoping to be “strikers.”
Background checks on prospects.
Prior law enforcement job precludes membership.
Officers chosen by secret ballot.
Like a “farm team.”
Support the major club’s interests; subservient.
Member of a puppet club can prove himself and become a prospect.
Patchover: an entire puppet club becomes a chapter.
Major club wants to establish a new chapter
in a certain area
or strengthen their position in a struggle with another club.
RACE, RELIGION, AND GENDER
Usually exhibit racist attitudes. In U.S., no known black male member in any major club. Chosen Few: a predominantly black club in LA. Hell’s Angels U.S. has Jewish and Muslim members. Hell’s Angels New Zealand has Maori members. Professor Veno says Hell’s Angels has some black, Polynesian,
Native American, and Hispanic members. Women are not members. They are playthings. “Old ladies” are wives or girlfriends; sex and other services
only for husband or boyfriend. “Mamas” and “sheep” belong to the club at large. Available to
any member sexually. Gang rape is “pulling a train.”
Outlaw clubs facilitate organized crime.
Crimes: distributing firearms, explosive, stolen motorcycles, and motorcycle parts; providing exotic dancers, prostitutes for sex-oriented establishments; trafficking in LSD, PCP, and Meth.
Particular active in meth trafficking.
Middlemen for drug dealers.
Invest in legitimate business, for profit or for front.
ANALYSIS OF THE STRUCTURE
Bureaucratic: elaborate hierarchy, specialization, advancement based on skill, and extensive written rules and regulations.
Secy-treas. records minutes of meetings and collects dues. Members pay weekly dues.
Chapter pays into national treasury. National Hell’s Angels maintain fund for legal expenses and support of families of incarcerated members.
Uniformity in style of dress, colors, and motorcycles— mostly large Harley-Davidsons.
FORMAL STRUCTURE NOT THE SAME AS ECONOMIC STRUCTURE
Economic activity involves small firms or partnerships among members and include nonmember associates.
Income-generating illegal activities involve small, operationally independent units.
Members can call upon members in the event of conflict.
Club affiliation enables members to safely conduct illegal business.
Credentialing aids business.
HELL’S ANGELS ARE AN ORGANIZATION OF CRIMINALS, NOT A CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION.
American Mafia groups are criminal organizations. Their raison d’etre is the business of crime.
Outlaw motorcycle clubs exist to promote a subcultural biker lifestyle.
Hell’s Angels work to maintain a barrier between HA as a club and HA as a business.
Members commit crimes, not the club.
OUTLAW MOTORCYCLE CLUB CREDOS
Hell’s Angels: “Three can keep a secret if two are dead.”
Outlaws: “God forgives, Outlaws don’t.”
Bandidos: “We are the people our parents warned us about.”
Pagans: “Live Pagan, die Pagan.”
Mongols: “Respect few, fear none.”
Founded 1948, San Bernardino County (“Berdoo”), California by the POBOBs.
1957, Sonny Barger became club president, moved headquarters to Oakland, CA.
1965: involved in drugs to gain income.
1965: California AG exaggerated HA violent activities. Media hyped it, fueling interest in bikers. Many lawfully employed bikers lost their jobs.
BIKER ON BIKER VIOLENCE
Major clubs do not tolerate a rival club in their territory. o 1996 violence in Scandinavia between HA and
Bandidos involved heavy weapons, grenades, killed and injured innocents.
Involvement in drug trafficking has fueled violence. Extreme violence is “bad for business.”
Drug trafficking is changing the biker subculture: Beer gut gone; well-groomed, fit. Some look awkward on their motorcycles—which
club rules require them to ride.
Origin: Outlaws Motorcycle Club founded in 1935 in McCook, Illinois. Moved to Chicago and changed name to Chicago Outlaws. Now, American Outlaws Association.
Chapters in Midwest, Northeast, southern states.
Warring with Hell’s Angels since 1974.
Founded 1965, San Leon, Texas by military veteran dockworkers.
Name adopted from “Frito Bandito” cartoon character.
Bandido Nation has 170 chapters in 14 countries.
Some non-white members.
Allied with the Outlaws.
Founded 1959 in Prince George’s Cointy, Maryland.
Chapters are centered on the East Coast: PA, DE, MD, NJ,NY, OH, SC, NC, FL, WV, NOLA.
No international chapters but ties to clubs in Canada.
Reputation for violence aids their extortion activities.
Violent conflicts with HA in Long Island, NY and Philadelphia.
Founded 1970 in Los Angeles.
Most of the early members were Mexicans. Now 90% Latino. Recruits from street gangs in Los Angeles.
An early member is a former Navy SEAL and former governor of Minnesota.
Ongoing violent conflicts with HA.
Chapters in Mexico, Italy, Germany, Italy, New South Wales.
OUTLAW MOTORCYCLE CLUBS AND THE AMERICAN MAFIA
Chicago Outlaws provide muscle, firearms, bombs, drugs to Chicago Outfit.
Plan illegal gambling activities and store devices.
Canadian Hell’s Angels Nomads chapter allied with Montreal Bonanno Family. Centralized distribution and fixed wholesale price of cocaine in the province.
Bruno Family and Pagans partner in meth and PCP trade.
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