For all the big type of the headline, this is actually a very small ‘article’… it’s but a single column, comprised solely and only of a motorcycle gang member’s recruitment pitch. However, we felt its portent loomed large… that it was, in actuality, a real and developing threat to our democracy.
Of course, at that time, if the mainstream papers had come to the same conclusion they were unlikely to put it in print for the public. Therefore, you can read our Los Angeles Free Press Front Page from all the way across the street.
And, a mere 22 years later, the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Organized Crime and Criminal Intelligence, backed us up with their release of the Report given that year at the National Law Enforcement Intelligence Units’ Seminar. However, there was a caveat to that release – “The information contained in the report is for the restricted use of law enforcement personnel only.”.
2 chuckles from it, maybe 3. The first, it was the 1945ish transplanted Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington who brought the violent motorcycle gang culture to sunny California. That begat 2 terms you hear nowadays, but may not know of their use back then: the acronym OMG (for Outlaw Motorcycle Gang), and the 1948 moniker of “the 1 percenters”.
These 2 terms are still used by law enforcement agencies and the gangs themselves; they are definitive terms. In other words, strictly speaking, they both agree that these motorcycle clubs are outlaws – they neither belong to nor abide by the rules of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) – and that only one percent of motorcyclists belong to those clubs.
But the broader understanding, per the recruitment pitch published here and a wide variety of contemporary documentation, is that
*they don’t ‘just’ rue the the rules of the AMA, they intentionally break them – and many others.
*Violence IS their way. In fact – within that ‘broader understanding’, “1%er” actually designates a dangerous human being (i.e. re: that ‘other documentation’ – there’s even instruction for emergency room personnel not only on how to handle, for their own safety, a wounded MCG Member – apparently frequent patients – but so that they don’t set off the ‘family’ that follows! Respect for each gang’s own ‘culture’ – their customs of greeting one another, the pecking order of members, the status of women, and so on – and their ‘colors’, including symbols, jackets, and patches worn with pride, i.e. a ‘1%er'(for prone to violence), could be the difference between safe and very, very sorry.
*Most chilling, they maintain a military order, and White Supremacy then, now, and forever is their goal.
It was for these reasons that we choose this particular story as our lead back in 1969. And why, on this 50th year anniversary, we can add it to our long list of remarkably prescient articles: MCGs are now an even greater threat to our democracy.
OK, but first, and only for a moment, let’s go back to 1948, California… just so you’re not left up in the air about what happened to those Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington. In Fontana, practically in our backyard, tho the LA FP did not arrive in LA till 1964, some of those Bastards got together and formed the Hells Angeles. And by 1966, the 3 other OMGs – the Pagans, the Outlaws, and the Bandidos – of the Big Four, were all up and running, as well. The chance to nip a bad seed in the bud was gone.
So today, besides the hundreds of ‘Charters’ of these Clubs here in America – and their nearly half a million Members – there are hundreds of Charters around the world. In fact, since 1969, the year of this Issue, the Hells Angeles themselves have established more than 300 Charters in Europe alone. Charters were issued in Australia by the end of the 70’s, in South America by the mid 80’s, in South Africa by the early 90’s and, in 2009, their first one was issued in a Muslim country, Turkey. Of course, other countries came on before ’69 – New Zealand in 1961, for example – and many in the 2010’s. And, remember, this is just the Hells Angels’ worldwide expansion.
Two more of the Big 4 OMGs also have, in total, hundreds of international Chapters. Then there are the dozens upon dozens of OMGs that are homebodies, mostly established in the central and western states. While the remaining 1 of the Big Four – the Pagans – have simply laid claim to the entire East Coast – and Puerto Rico.
It all comes together now, in 2019, with greater relevancy like this:
While our 1969 article exposed that the principles of MCGs were the antithesis of American values and warned that if their recruitment drive were successful our democracy was in danger, at that point, the MCGs were separate entities. In fact, they were at war with one another. Their commonality was limited to the above factors, and just one more – their crime was, mostly, petty, their trade marked by brutality, they had no business models to develop. In the ’70’s, still as warring entities, small time activities of prostitution, theft, and ‘protection, turned into larger enterprises. The Big Four, either through their large territorial claims and/or their international connections brought illicit drug dealing to the fore, and there was enough money to make laundering it into a business of its own. In sum, but still as separate gangs, they came into the 2000’s with more than a billion dollars in annual revenue.
Could they have made more as one big, happy family? Seems likely, but just as unlikely that any club would give up its ‘culture’, ‘colors’, or ‘territory’ to any other club. I will venture to say that while we saw that recruits to each club would rip holes in the fabric of communities, tearing down the rights of locals who were ‘different’, the gays, the black, the immigrated – the anybody but white – I don’t believe that when this article was first published that we ever imagined that here, in America, there would ever be a leader who could possibly bring all of the MCGs together, unite them in purpose. It would be synergistic, a force greater than the power of the individual entities, to the benefit them all. It would be transformative. It would present a clear and present danger to the entire nation IF, as we did imagine, their membership grew.
But there was no such leader in mind. Now, there is…