Get 20M+ Full-Text Papers For Less Than $1.50/day. Subscribe now for You or Your Team.

Learn More →

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs: Aspects of the One-Percenter Culture for Emergency Department Personnel to Consider

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs: Aspects of the One-Percenter Culture for Emergency Department Personnel... Review Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs: Aspects of the One-Percenter Culture for Emergency Department Personnel to Consider Children’s of Alabama, Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Birmingham, Alabama Anand N. Bosmia, BA* University of North Texas, Department of Rehabilitation, Social Work, and Addictions, James F. Quinn, PhD Denton, Texas Todd B. Peterson, MD University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Emergency Medicine, Christoph J. Griessenauer, MD Birmingham, Alabama R. Shane Tubbs, PhD, PA-C, MS* University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Neurosurgery, Birmingham, Alabama Supervising Section Editor: Jeremy Hess, MD, MPH Submission history: Submitted April 9, 2013; Revision received January 20, 2014; Accepted February, 21, 2014 Electronically published May 12, 2014 Full text available through open access at http://escholarship.org/uc/uciem_westjem DOI: 10.5811/westjem.2014.2.17919 Outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) are an iconic element of the criminal landscape in the United States, the country of their origin. Members of OMGs may present to the emergency department (ED) as a result of motor vehicle accidents or interpersonal violence. When one member of an OMG is injured, other members and associates are likely to arrive in the ED to support the injured member. The extant literature for ED personnel lacks an overview of the culture of OMGs, a culture that promotes the display of unique symbols and that holds certain paraphernalia as integral to an outlaw biker’s identity and pride. The objective of this manuscript is to discuss various aspects of the culture of OMGs so that ED personnel may better understand the mentality of the outlaw biker. Knowledge of their symbols, values, and hierarchy can be crucial to maintaining order in the ED when an injured outlaw biker presents to the ED. We used standard search engines to obtain reports from law enforcement agencies and studies in academic journals on OMGs. We present the observations of 1 author who has conducted ethnographic research on outlaw bikers since the 1980s. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):523–528.] INTRODUCTION gangs have expertise in sophisticated weapons and possess an The emergency department (ED) is at particularly high intricate intelligence network. 1,2 risk for violence against healthcare workers. The arrival Outlaw bikers refer to their organizations as “one- of an injured gang member should cause ED personnel to percenter” motorcycle clubs (MC) rather than gangs. The become more vigilant for violent outbursts. The Gang Threat term “one-percenter” originated from a statement made by the Assessment published by the National Gang Intelligence American Motorcycle Association in response to a motorcycle Center in November 2011 indicates that there are an estimated rally held in 1947 in Hollister, California, that turned violent. 1.4 million active street, prison, and outlaw motorcycle gang The American Motorcycle Association stated: “99% of the members in more than 33,000 gangs operating in all 50 motorcycling public are law-abiding; there are 1% who are American states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. not.” Thus, the “1%” patch (Figure 1) is worn only by clubs Outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) are an iconic element of immersed in criminality and large enough to defend the claim 6,7 the criminal landscape in the United States, the country of to be the “baddest of the bad” against all. their origin. ED personnel may encounter members of these groups. The authors aim to elucidate certain aspects of the CRIMINAL HIERARCHY culture of OMGs so that ED personnel can better understand Quinn and Forsyth divide one-percenter clubs into 4 the mentality of the outlaw biker. OMGs present a challenge categories: to ED personnel in that they are well organized and thus • Support clubs, which have minor to moderate able to mobilize their members quickly to assist an injured involvement with criminal activity and maintain a comrade, and are often impulsive and heavily armed. These relationship with a larger one-percenter club for protection Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014 523 Western Journal of Emergency Medicine Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Bosmia et al and to bolster their reputations (e.g., Gray Ghosts MC). • Satellite clubs, which are created and controlled by members of the larger one-percenter clubs and serve as sources of recruits to the larger clubs; members of a satellite club perform tasks related to the criminal activity of the larger club (e.g., Red Rockers MC). • Regional clubs, which have limited membership and territory (e.g., Devils Disciples MC); these groups usually have some links to larger one-percenter clubs and may or may not claim one-percenter status. • The larger one-percenter clubs (e.g., Hells Angels MC, Mongols MC, etc.) are at the top of the criminal hierarchy in the world of the outlaw biker and determine much of its dynamics. Interclub relations are complex. Interclub affiliations may reflect a temporary alliance (primarily among large clubs) or a partial surrender of a small local club to a larger international club. While many regional clubs have surrendered their “1%” logos, these clubs retain the aggressiveness, impulsivity, and intense personal loyalties that typify the culture of the outlaw Figure 2. The “colors” of the Mongols motorcycle club. biker. Satellite clubs provide an expendable criminal labor force for the larger clubs and serve as proving grounds for Internet as much as white OMGs do. Most black OMGs are men who want to join large international clubs. Furthermore, local or regional rather than national or global in their reach, OMGs are almost entirely white in the U.S., with the exception of the largely Chicano Mongols MC. Many outlaw and are usually encountered on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. Many but not all black OMGs have a color scheme. bikers are racists, and there are strong links between the For example, the California-based Chosen Few MC use red respective cultures of outlaw bikers and white supremacists. and white, but the Pennsylvania/East Coast-based Wheels of Black OMGs exist, but these groups operate within a Soul MC do not appear to have a color scheme. These are the different milieu and have their own symbols and values. OMGs composed of African American or mixed race members are less most powerful and widely known among the black OMGs. Black OMGs often use slogans, symbols, and even names of extreme in their entrepreneurialism and organization compared white OMGs. For example, a white OMG based in Canada and to OMGs composed of white members, and do not use the upstate New York that is loosely affiliated with the Outlaws MC also bears the name “Chosen Few MC.” Sports bikes are often used among members of black OMGs, but sports bikes are anathema to most white OMGs. While members of white OMGs in the U.S. are required to have a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, the use of Harley-Davidson motorcycles varies among black OMGs. Although black OMGs are repressed by most white OMGs, affiliations between these two groups do exist. For example, the Baltimore-based Thunderbirds MC 8,9 answers to the Pagans MC. The Hells Angels, Bandidos, Mongols (Figure 2), Outlaws, Sons of Silence, and Pagans MCs are the most powerful OMGs. Statistics regarding membership for these clubs can be found at http://www.justice.gov/criminal/ocgs/ gangs/motorcycle.html. ED personnel should be aware of which OMGs are active in their state of practice. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Rocky Mountain Information Network list which OMGs are active in each state. Because such national data are often out of date and may neglect smaller clubs, they should be supplemented with information from local authorities or the clubs’ own Figure 1. The “one-percenter” patch. websites. Some of these websites provide information about Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 524 Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014 Bosmia et al Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Head” logo (Figure 3), whereas the Bandidos MC use red and gold with their “Fat Mexican” logo (Figure 4). Non-member associates of the club and members of support and satellite clubs often use the color scheme, but never the insignia, of the larger sponsoring club. For example, the LA Riders MC are a support club of the Bandidos MC and incorporate red and gold into their colors, which consist of a red and gold image of the state of Louisiana, but do not wear the “1%” patch or the “Fat Mexican” logo of the Bandidos MC. Only “full-patch” members may display the club logo. Full-patch members are fiendishly protective of the exclusivity of their insignia, and clubs hold copyright on their logos and other major symbols. The “1%” logo encased in a diamond-shaped patch is worn on the front or back of the biker’s colors. Club officers have a patch listing their rank sewn onto the front breast of Figure 3. The “Death’s Head” logo of the Hells Angels motorcycle club. their colors, and some bikers will display the locations of smaller clubs affiliated with the larger club. However, not all chapters with which they have ties on the side of their colors. Some independent clubs do not wear the “1%” patch in order clubs will have such websites (e.g., Pagans MC): to avoid challenges from larger clubs, but these clubs can be • Bandidos MC: http://www.bandidosmc.com just as violent as clubs who sport the “1%” patch. Thus, the • Hells Angels MC: http://www.hells-angels.com absence of a “1%” patch does not rule out criminal ties or • Outlaws MC: http://wwww.outlawsmc.com • Sons of Silence MC: http://www.sonsofsilence.com intense loyalties among members of the club. Knowledge of color schemes is consequently more important for recognizing • Mongols MC: http://www.mongolsmc.com members of OMGs. In addition, links to the websites of major OMGs can be Members may wear tattoos, T-shirts, and jewelry that found at http://www.bikernews.org/wtn/news.php. incorporate acronyms, symbols, or logos associated with the GANG INSIGNIA club. Associates may wear “support” jewelry or T-shirts that incorporate a separate set of symbols but use the dominant Patches and tattoos reflect the sect-like symbolism of a 12,13 club’s color scheme. For example, the logo of the Outlaws gang’s subculture and can provide information about a MC consists of a skull and two crossed pistons, but associates gang member’s social history, such as past incarcerations, drug of the Outlaws MC may sport a logo that features a hand use, and allegiance to the gang. Central to the attire of outlaw bikers is the sleeveless and collarless jacket that identifies the clenching a pistol, or a Harley-Davidson logo that reads “Support Black & White,” as black and white are the two specific club to which a biker belongs. These jackets, referred to as “colors,” are made from leather or denim. The patches, or “rockers,” that indicate full membership to an OMG are embroidered on a biker’s colors, and are regarded with great reverence by members and club affiliates. The back of a biker’s colors typically has a top rocker, which bears the club’s name; a center patch, which bears the club’s logo; and a bottom rocker, which indicates the location of the chapter of the club to which the biker belongs. A biker’s colors are integral to his identity as a member of the club. Should a biker’s colors be removed during the course of his care in the ED, physicians and staff would be prudent to treat his colors with respect or otherwise risk a hostile reaction from the biker and his associates. Because there are so many OMGs active in the U.S. it would be impractical for ED personnel to memorize every specific logo or insignia associated with each one. However, the authors advise ED personnel to be familiar with the hues worn by each locally active OMG and its support and satellite clubs, and the ubiquitous “1%” patch. Most OMGs have two hues associated with their respective insignias. For example, the Hells Angels MC use red and white with their “Death’s Figure 4. The “Fat Mexican” logo of the Bandidos motorcycle club. Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014 525 Western Journal of Emergency Medicine Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Bosmia et al enforcement, and thus police may have a more difficult time main hues associated with the Outlaws MC. The process of detaining members of the club and preventing their arrival en joining a club often involves tattooing the club’s logo onto the masse at the hospital. biker’s body, and these tattoos may be displayed anywhere on The cause of the biker’s injury must be clarified, as the body. Some tattoos are immediately visible, but others will be covered by clothing or lost in a maze of body art. Any some incidents provoke immense anger from the club (e.g., a citizen ramming into a biker with a car or a biker being biker who is not in good standing with the club must burn assaulted by members of a rival OMG), whereas others evoke off club-related tattoos, usually by heating a butter knife and only concern (e.g., a single-vehicle accident). If a biker’s applying it repeatedly onto his skin. Alternatively, he may injuries are secondary to interpersonal violence, the biker may have them covered with other tattoos. Acronyms, such as “LPDP” for “Live Pagan, Die Pagan” avoid disclosing this fact to avoid attention. The emergency physician should take a thorough history in a non-threatening and “AFFA” for “Angels Forever, Forever Angels,”are also manner to improve his chances of eliciting these details prominent in the OMG culture. An acronym prevalent among from the biker and thereby avoid not anticipating dangerous OMGs is “FTW” for “Fuck the World,” an expression that has complications of the biker’s injuries. For example, a fight become widespread in the “saloon society” milieu in which the one-percenter culture originated. In addition, references bite is a laceration of the hand sustained by striking another individual in the mouth with a clenched fist, and such a wound to a specific OMG as a “nation” are also common in their can result in devastating infections if it is not treated early and written and spoken vocabulary (e.g., “Mongol Nation” for the correctly. Thus, appropriate antibiotics must be administered Mongols MC or “Green Nation” for the Vagos MC). if a biker has sustained a fight bite. POTENTIAL FOR VIOLENCE IN THE ED Outlaw bikers may have weapons hidden on their persons that are discovered as their clothing is removed If a gang member perceives disrespect from anyone, during the course of care. These weapons are not limited to including ED staff, the outcome can be deadly, as gang guns and knives. Members of a specific OMG sometimes members have an overarching requirement for respect and carry a particular everyday item as a weapon, the possession for saving face in all encounters and from every individual with whom they come in contact. The gang member will not of which contributes to their sense of membership to the club. For example, a member of the Hells Angels MC may hesitate to injure or kill someone if he believes that person has carry a ball-peen hammer, whereas a member of the Sons of shown disrespect to himself or his gang. Power and respect Silence MC may sport an industrial flashlight. Emergency are the chief values of OMGs, which are now composed physicians should be particularly cautious of a biker in the ED of impulse-driven traditionalists and more conventional entrepreneurs. The latter are more likely to take reasoned whose colors bear a rocker reading “prospect,” “probate,” or “probationary”. A biker with such a rocker is a candidate for actions within or beyond legal boundaries, but both are very membership to the club and may be more prone to committing capable of expressive violence. Most members of OMGs acts of aggression than a full-patch member to prove that are a hybrid of these 2 personas. Outlaw bikers should always he is worthy of membership. Prospective members spend be treated with respect, regardless of whether their behavior warrants it. 1 month to 1 year in a probationary status and are known to carry weapons for full-patch members, and some clubs have If an injured member arrives at the ED, other members their prospective members commit felonies with full-patch of his club will often arrive to protect him or inquire into members present to weed out weak candidates and curb his welfare. OMGs are an amalgam of a tribe, family, and infiltration by law enforcement. corporation, and an ethos of “one on all, all on one” prevails, meaning that to assault or injure one member is to attack the Women who support the club can also facilitate violence in the ED. The culture of OMGs is notoriously misogynistic, entire club, and restoring the club’s honor is a sacred duty to and women affiliated with these gangs are generally forced which all members are bound. An attack on a man in 2013 into prostitution or street-level drug trafficking. Women are illustrates the reactivity of an outlaw biker against a perceived not allowed to be members of the club, but they may wear offender. A man was alleged to have briefly argued at a bar with a member of the Sin City MC, who returned with 15 to “property” belts or vests adorned with “property” patches to indicate their affiliation with a specific club. However, female 20 other members and attacked the man with a machete. associates often do not display such insignia, which makes Multiple news reports evidence that outlaw bikers are willing 21,22,23,24 identifying their affiliation with an OMG more difficult. Female to fight with members of rival OMGs in public settings. associates are often extremely loyal to the club and assist The fact that OMGs are well-organized and primed to respond swiftly with aggression in the event of a members with illegal activities. ED personnel should be aware that women who arrive to see an injured outlaw biker may carry member being injured should make ED personnel alert law weapons or drugs for the biker or members of his club. enforcement with greater urgency in the event that supporters Rivalries among OMGs can lead to a war when 2 or more of the injured biker start to congregate at the hospital. OMGs are vying for territory. If the members of rival OMG As motorcyclists, their mobility aids them in evading law Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 526 Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014 Bosmia et al Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs 2. Kowalenko T. Violence against ED workers a growing problem. meet each other in the ED waiting room, a violent altercation Emergency Physicians Monthly Web site. Available at: http://www. is inevitable. Emergency physicians should inquire as to whether an outlaw biker’s injuries are secondary to a conflict epmonthly.com/features/current-features/violence-against-ed- with a rival OMG. If members of a rival OMG injured the workers-a-growing-problem/. Accessed November 12, 2013. biker, the biker’s adversaries may come to the hospital to finish 3. Moore CD Sr. Maintaining security when gang members visit your the job. Although these incidents are rare, they do occur. ER. Hospital, School & University Campus Safety Magazine Web ED personnel must be aware that outlaw bikers do not site. Available at : http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/Channel/ always resemble the stereotypical “drunken, swaggering Hospital-Security/Articles/Print/Story/2012/06/Gangs-Healthcare- Hells Angel of 1969.” Many outlaw bikers are clean cut, Security-Preparation-Education-Are-the-Keys.aspx. Accessed and some even prefer 4-wheeled vehicles. Many OMGs November 12, 2013. consider themselves to be in a perpetual state of war with 4. DeVito C. The encyclopedia of international organized crime. law enforcement. Thus, police officers providing security Checkmark Books. 2005. Print. in the ED, especially if they are in uniform, may have an 5. National Alliance of Gang Investigators’ Associations. 2009. Quick inflammatory effect on bikers who arrive at the hospital. guide to gangs. Elkhorn: National Gang Intelligence Center – Federal Bureau of Investigation. CONCLUSION 6. Quinn JF. Sex roles and hedonism among members of outlaw ED personnel may encounter outlaw bikers who motorcycle clubs. Deviant Behavior. 1987;8:47-63. have been injured in motor vehicle accidents or through 7. Quinn JF, Forsyth CJ. Leathers and rolexs: The symbolism and interpersonal violence. Knowing the hues of local OMGs and values of the motorcycle club. Deviant Behavior. 2009;30:1-31. their support and satellite clubs and recognizing the “1%” 8. History of the Chosen Few motorcycle club. Chosen Few Motorcycle patch can assist ED personnel in anticipating gang-related Club Web site. Available at: http://www.chosenfewmc.org/. Accessed violence. Determining the cause of the biker’s injuries is January 14, 2014. critical, as scenarios in which a biker has been injured by 9. Black motorcycle clubs. Black Motorcycle Clubs & Black Bike Rides enemies of his club or by a citizen can predispose the biker and his associates to hostile behavior. Outlaw bikers follow a Web site. Available at: http://blackmotorcycleclubs.net/index.php/ pack mentality that demands that every member support each black-motorcycle-clubs. Accessed January 14, 2014. 7,19 member to the utmost. Treating these men respectfully at all 10. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. 2010. Outlaw motorcycle times is of paramount importance to decrease the likelihood gangs. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. of aggression in the ED. Although OMGs share characteristics 11. Rocky Mountain Information Network. 2010. Gangs: Their increasing of many other types of gangs in the U.S., members sport grip on the nation. A special report from rocky mountain information idiosyncratic symbols that reflect the values and hierarchy network. Phoenix: Rocky Mountain Information Network. of their OMG culture. Knowledge of the OMG’s symbols, 12. Davis RH. Outlaw motorcyclists: A problem for police (part 2). FBI values, and hierarchy can help ED personnel understand Law Enforcement Bulletin. 1982;51:16-22. the mentality of the outlaw biker. The authors hope that this 13. Watson MJ. Righteousness on two wheels. Sociological Spectrum. article will encourage ED personnel to conduct formal studies 1982;2:333-349. that focus on outlaw bikers who arrive at the ED for treatment 14. Urdang M, Mallek JT, Mallon WK. Tattoos and piercings: A review and the outcomes of such visits. for the emergency department physician. West J Emerg Med. 2011;12:393-398. Address for Correspondence: Christoph Griessenauer, 15. Kemp MR. Independent bikers: An ethnography of a biker MD, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department community. Texas Tech University. 1989:86. of Neurosurgery, 1720 Second Avenue South, FOT 1062, 16. Riviello R. Manual of forensic emergency medicine: A guide for Birmingham, AL 35294-3410. Email: cgriessenauer@uabmc.edu. clinicians. Jones & Bartlett Learning. 2009. Print. 17. Lavigne Y. Hells Angels: Three can keep a secret if two are dead. Conflicts of Interest: By the WestJEM article submission Lyle Stuart, Carol Publishing Group.1985. agreement, all authors are required to disclose all affiliations, 18. Allen P. Violence in the emergency department: Tools & strategies funding sources and financial or management relationships that to create a violence-free ED. Springer Publishing Company. 2009. could be perceived as potential sources of bias. The authors disclosed none. Print. 19. Quinn JF, Forsyth CJ. Evolving themes in the subculture of the REFERENCES outlaw biker. International Journal of Crime, Criminal Justice and 1. Strategies for managing violence against ED personnel. Physician’s Weekly Law. 2007;2:143-158. Web site. Available at: http://www.physiciansweekly.com/emergency- 20. Machete attack by “outlaw” motorcycle club sends man to hospital. department-violence-prevention/. Accessed November 12, 2013. ABC News Web site. Available at: http://www.abc22now.com/shared/ Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014 527 Western Journal of Emergency Medicine Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Bosmia et al news/top-stories/stories/wkef_vid_11873.shtml. Accessed October 1, violence’ at airport. Daily Mail Web site. Available from: http://www. 2013. dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1172393/Biker-gangs-brawled-machete- 21. 21. Outlaw motorcycle gangs blamed for bloody brawl at North Point busy-airport.html. Accessed October 1, 2013. flea market. CBS News Web site. Available from: http://baltimore. 25. Woodward R. Law officer shot Hells Angels member in Sturgis, cbslocal.com/2012/11/13/outlaw-motorcycle-gangs-blamed-for- police say. Rapid City Journal Web site. Available from: http:// bloody-brawl-at-north-point-flea-market/. Accessed October 1, 2013. rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/law-officer-shot-hells-angels- 22. Hells Angels and Outlaws biker gangs jailed for airport riot. Telegraph member-in-sturgis-police-say/article_23f959b7-86ef-56b2-88cc- Web site. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ f3a8ceadc9cc.html. Accessed October 1, 2013. law-and-order/5579341/Hells-Angels-and-Outlaws-biker-gangs-jailed- 26. Roline CE, Wang S. Be aware of the high risk associated with “fight for-airport-riot.html. Accessed October 1, 2013. bites”. In: Mattu A, Chanmugam AS, Swadron SP, Tibbles CD, 23. Two people suffer stab wounds after biker gang-related fight Woolridge DP, eds. Avoiding Common Errors in the Emergency in Greeley. The Tribune Web site. Available from: http://www. Department. Philadelphia PA: Wolters Kluwer. Lippincott, Williams, greeleytribune.com/news/6560635-113/police-fight-gang-bar. and Wilkins; 2010:1152. Accessed October 1, 2013. 27. Quinn JF, Forsyth CJ. The tools, tactics, and mentality of outlaw biker 24. Dolan A. Bikers wielded machete and meat cleaver in bout of ‘mob wars. American Journal of Criminal Justice. 2011;36:216-230. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 528 Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Western Journal of Emergency Medicine Pubmed Central

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs: Aspects of the One-Percenter Culture for Emergency Department Personnel to Consider

Western Journal of Emergency Medicine , Volume 15 (4) – Jul 1, 2014

Loading next page...
 
/lp/pubmed-central/outlaw-motorcycle-gangs-aspects-of-the-one-percenter-culture-for-ySRv2DHqbQ

References (29)

Publisher
Pubmed Central
Copyright
Copyright © 2014 the authors.
ISSN
1936-900X
eISSN
1936-9018
DOI
10.5811/westjem.2014.2.17919
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Review Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs: Aspects of the One-Percenter Culture for Emergency Department Personnel to Consider Children’s of Alabama, Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Birmingham, Alabama Anand N. Bosmia, BA* University of North Texas, Department of Rehabilitation, Social Work, and Addictions, James F. Quinn, PhD Denton, Texas Todd B. Peterson, MD University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Emergency Medicine, Christoph J. Griessenauer, MD Birmingham, Alabama R. Shane Tubbs, PhD, PA-C, MS* University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Neurosurgery, Birmingham, Alabama Supervising Section Editor: Jeremy Hess, MD, MPH Submission history: Submitted April 9, 2013; Revision received January 20, 2014; Accepted February, 21, 2014 Electronically published May 12, 2014 Full text available through open access at http://escholarship.org/uc/uciem_westjem DOI: 10.5811/westjem.2014.2.17919 Outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) are an iconic element of the criminal landscape in the United States, the country of their origin. Members of OMGs may present to the emergency department (ED) as a result of motor vehicle accidents or interpersonal violence. When one member of an OMG is injured, other members and associates are likely to arrive in the ED to support the injured member. The extant literature for ED personnel lacks an overview of the culture of OMGs, a culture that promotes the display of unique symbols and that holds certain paraphernalia as integral to an outlaw biker’s identity and pride. The objective of this manuscript is to discuss various aspects of the culture of OMGs so that ED personnel may better understand the mentality of the outlaw biker. Knowledge of their symbols, values, and hierarchy can be crucial to maintaining order in the ED when an injured outlaw biker presents to the ED. We used standard search engines to obtain reports from law enforcement agencies and studies in academic journals on OMGs. We present the observations of 1 author who has conducted ethnographic research on outlaw bikers since the 1980s. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):523–528.] INTRODUCTION gangs have expertise in sophisticated weapons and possess an The emergency department (ED) is at particularly high intricate intelligence network. 1,2 risk for violence against healthcare workers. The arrival Outlaw bikers refer to their organizations as “one- of an injured gang member should cause ED personnel to percenter” motorcycle clubs (MC) rather than gangs. The become more vigilant for violent outbursts. The Gang Threat term “one-percenter” originated from a statement made by the Assessment published by the National Gang Intelligence American Motorcycle Association in response to a motorcycle Center in November 2011 indicates that there are an estimated rally held in 1947 in Hollister, California, that turned violent. 1.4 million active street, prison, and outlaw motorcycle gang The American Motorcycle Association stated: “99% of the members in more than 33,000 gangs operating in all 50 motorcycling public are law-abiding; there are 1% who are American states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. not.” Thus, the “1%” patch (Figure 1) is worn only by clubs Outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) are an iconic element of immersed in criminality and large enough to defend the claim 6,7 the criminal landscape in the United States, the country of to be the “baddest of the bad” against all. their origin. ED personnel may encounter members of these groups. The authors aim to elucidate certain aspects of the CRIMINAL HIERARCHY culture of OMGs so that ED personnel can better understand Quinn and Forsyth divide one-percenter clubs into 4 the mentality of the outlaw biker. OMGs present a challenge categories: to ED personnel in that they are well organized and thus • Support clubs, which have minor to moderate able to mobilize their members quickly to assist an injured involvement with criminal activity and maintain a comrade, and are often impulsive and heavily armed. These relationship with a larger one-percenter club for protection Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014 523 Western Journal of Emergency Medicine Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Bosmia et al and to bolster their reputations (e.g., Gray Ghosts MC). • Satellite clubs, which are created and controlled by members of the larger one-percenter clubs and serve as sources of recruits to the larger clubs; members of a satellite club perform tasks related to the criminal activity of the larger club (e.g., Red Rockers MC). • Regional clubs, which have limited membership and territory (e.g., Devils Disciples MC); these groups usually have some links to larger one-percenter clubs and may or may not claim one-percenter status. • The larger one-percenter clubs (e.g., Hells Angels MC, Mongols MC, etc.) are at the top of the criminal hierarchy in the world of the outlaw biker and determine much of its dynamics. Interclub relations are complex. Interclub affiliations may reflect a temporary alliance (primarily among large clubs) or a partial surrender of a small local club to a larger international club. While many regional clubs have surrendered their “1%” logos, these clubs retain the aggressiveness, impulsivity, and intense personal loyalties that typify the culture of the outlaw Figure 2. The “colors” of the Mongols motorcycle club. biker. Satellite clubs provide an expendable criminal labor force for the larger clubs and serve as proving grounds for Internet as much as white OMGs do. Most black OMGs are men who want to join large international clubs. Furthermore, local or regional rather than national or global in their reach, OMGs are almost entirely white in the U.S., with the exception of the largely Chicano Mongols MC. Many outlaw and are usually encountered on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. Many but not all black OMGs have a color scheme. bikers are racists, and there are strong links between the For example, the California-based Chosen Few MC use red respective cultures of outlaw bikers and white supremacists. and white, but the Pennsylvania/East Coast-based Wheels of Black OMGs exist, but these groups operate within a Soul MC do not appear to have a color scheme. These are the different milieu and have their own symbols and values. OMGs composed of African American or mixed race members are less most powerful and widely known among the black OMGs. Black OMGs often use slogans, symbols, and even names of extreme in their entrepreneurialism and organization compared white OMGs. For example, a white OMG based in Canada and to OMGs composed of white members, and do not use the upstate New York that is loosely affiliated with the Outlaws MC also bears the name “Chosen Few MC.” Sports bikes are often used among members of black OMGs, but sports bikes are anathema to most white OMGs. While members of white OMGs in the U.S. are required to have a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, the use of Harley-Davidson motorcycles varies among black OMGs. Although black OMGs are repressed by most white OMGs, affiliations between these two groups do exist. For example, the Baltimore-based Thunderbirds MC 8,9 answers to the Pagans MC. The Hells Angels, Bandidos, Mongols (Figure 2), Outlaws, Sons of Silence, and Pagans MCs are the most powerful OMGs. Statistics regarding membership for these clubs can be found at http://www.justice.gov/criminal/ocgs/ gangs/motorcycle.html. ED personnel should be aware of which OMGs are active in their state of practice. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Rocky Mountain Information Network list which OMGs are active in each state. Because such national data are often out of date and may neglect smaller clubs, they should be supplemented with information from local authorities or the clubs’ own Figure 1. The “one-percenter” patch. websites. Some of these websites provide information about Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 524 Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014 Bosmia et al Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Head” logo (Figure 3), whereas the Bandidos MC use red and gold with their “Fat Mexican” logo (Figure 4). Non-member associates of the club and members of support and satellite clubs often use the color scheme, but never the insignia, of the larger sponsoring club. For example, the LA Riders MC are a support club of the Bandidos MC and incorporate red and gold into their colors, which consist of a red and gold image of the state of Louisiana, but do not wear the “1%” patch or the “Fat Mexican” logo of the Bandidos MC. Only “full-patch” members may display the club logo. Full-patch members are fiendishly protective of the exclusivity of their insignia, and clubs hold copyright on their logos and other major symbols. The “1%” logo encased in a diamond-shaped patch is worn on the front or back of the biker’s colors. Club officers have a patch listing their rank sewn onto the front breast of Figure 3. The “Death’s Head” logo of the Hells Angels motorcycle club. their colors, and some bikers will display the locations of smaller clubs affiliated with the larger club. However, not all chapters with which they have ties on the side of their colors. Some independent clubs do not wear the “1%” patch in order clubs will have such websites (e.g., Pagans MC): to avoid challenges from larger clubs, but these clubs can be • Bandidos MC: http://www.bandidosmc.com just as violent as clubs who sport the “1%” patch. Thus, the • Hells Angels MC: http://www.hells-angels.com absence of a “1%” patch does not rule out criminal ties or • Outlaws MC: http://wwww.outlawsmc.com • Sons of Silence MC: http://www.sonsofsilence.com intense loyalties among members of the club. Knowledge of color schemes is consequently more important for recognizing • Mongols MC: http://www.mongolsmc.com members of OMGs. In addition, links to the websites of major OMGs can be Members may wear tattoos, T-shirts, and jewelry that found at http://www.bikernews.org/wtn/news.php. incorporate acronyms, symbols, or logos associated with the GANG INSIGNIA club. Associates may wear “support” jewelry or T-shirts that incorporate a separate set of symbols but use the dominant Patches and tattoos reflect the sect-like symbolism of a 12,13 club’s color scheme. For example, the logo of the Outlaws gang’s subculture and can provide information about a MC consists of a skull and two crossed pistons, but associates gang member’s social history, such as past incarcerations, drug of the Outlaws MC may sport a logo that features a hand use, and allegiance to the gang. Central to the attire of outlaw bikers is the sleeveless and collarless jacket that identifies the clenching a pistol, or a Harley-Davidson logo that reads “Support Black & White,” as black and white are the two specific club to which a biker belongs. These jackets, referred to as “colors,” are made from leather or denim. The patches, or “rockers,” that indicate full membership to an OMG are embroidered on a biker’s colors, and are regarded with great reverence by members and club affiliates. The back of a biker’s colors typically has a top rocker, which bears the club’s name; a center patch, which bears the club’s logo; and a bottom rocker, which indicates the location of the chapter of the club to which the biker belongs. A biker’s colors are integral to his identity as a member of the club. Should a biker’s colors be removed during the course of his care in the ED, physicians and staff would be prudent to treat his colors with respect or otherwise risk a hostile reaction from the biker and his associates. Because there are so many OMGs active in the U.S. it would be impractical for ED personnel to memorize every specific logo or insignia associated with each one. However, the authors advise ED personnel to be familiar with the hues worn by each locally active OMG and its support and satellite clubs, and the ubiquitous “1%” patch. Most OMGs have two hues associated with their respective insignias. For example, the Hells Angels MC use red and white with their “Death’s Figure 4. The “Fat Mexican” logo of the Bandidos motorcycle club. Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014 525 Western Journal of Emergency Medicine Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Bosmia et al enforcement, and thus police may have a more difficult time main hues associated with the Outlaws MC. The process of detaining members of the club and preventing their arrival en joining a club often involves tattooing the club’s logo onto the masse at the hospital. biker’s body, and these tattoos may be displayed anywhere on The cause of the biker’s injury must be clarified, as the body. Some tattoos are immediately visible, but others will be covered by clothing or lost in a maze of body art. Any some incidents provoke immense anger from the club (e.g., a citizen ramming into a biker with a car or a biker being biker who is not in good standing with the club must burn assaulted by members of a rival OMG), whereas others evoke off club-related tattoos, usually by heating a butter knife and only concern (e.g., a single-vehicle accident). If a biker’s applying it repeatedly onto his skin. Alternatively, he may injuries are secondary to interpersonal violence, the biker may have them covered with other tattoos. Acronyms, such as “LPDP” for “Live Pagan, Die Pagan” avoid disclosing this fact to avoid attention. The emergency physician should take a thorough history in a non-threatening and “AFFA” for “Angels Forever, Forever Angels,”are also manner to improve his chances of eliciting these details prominent in the OMG culture. An acronym prevalent among from the biker and thereby avoid not anticipating dangerous OMGs is “FTW” for “Fuck the World,” an expression that has complications of the biker’s injuries. For example, a fight become widespread in the “saloon society” milieu in which the one-percenter culture originated. In addition, references bite is a laceration of the hand sustained by striking another individual in the mouth with a clenched fist, and such a wound to a specific OMG as a “nation” are also common in their can result in devastating infections if it is not treated early and written and spoken vocabulary (e.g., “Mongol Nation” for the correctly. Thus, appropriate antibiotics must be administered Mongols MC or “Green Nation” for the Vagos MC). if a biker has sustained a fight bite. POTENTIAL FOR VIOLENCE IN THE ED Outlaw bikers may have weapons hidden on their persons that are discovered as their clothing is removed If a gang member perceives disrespect from anyone, during the course of care. These weapons are not limited to including ED staff, the outcome can be deadly, as gang guns and knives. Members of a specific OMG sometimes members have an overarching requirement for respect and carry a particular everyday item as a weapon, the possession for saving face in all encounters and from every individual with whom they come in contact. The gang member will not of which contributes to their sense of membership to the club. For example, a member of the Hells Angels MC may hesitate to injure or kill someone if he believes that person has carry a ball-peen hammer, whereas a member of the Sons of shown disrespect to himself or his gang. Power and respect Silence MC may sport an industrial flashlight. Emergency are the chief values of OMGs, which are now composed physicians should be particularly cautious of a biker in the ED of impulse-driven traditionalists and more conventional entrepreneurs. The latter are more likely to take reasoned whose colors bear a rocker reading “prospect,” “probate,” or “probationary”. A biker with such a rocker is a candidate for actions within or beyond legal boundaries, but both are very membership to the club and may be more prone to committing capable of expressive violence. Most members of OMGs acts of aggression than a full-patch member to prove that are a hybrid of these 2 personas. Outlaw bikers should always he is worthy of membership. Prospective members spend be treated with respect, regardless of whether their behavior warrants it. 1 month to 1 year in a probationary status and are known to carry weapons for full-patch members, and some clubs have If an injured member arrives at the ED, other members their prospective members commit felonies with full-patch of his club will often arrive to protect him or inquire into members present to weed out weak candidates and curb his welfare. OMGs are an amalgam of a tribe, family, and infiltration by law enforcement. corporation, and an ethos of “one on all, all on one” prevails, meaning that to assault or injure one member is to attack the Women who support the club can also facilitate violence in the ED. The culture of OMGs is notoriously misogynistic, entire club, and restoring the club’s honor is a sacred duty to and women affiliated with these gangs are generally forced which all members are bound. An attack on a man in 2013 into prostitution or street-level drug trafficking. Women are illustrates the reactivity of an outlaw biker against a perceived not allowed to be members of the club, but they may wear offender. A man was alleged to have briefly argued at a bar with a member of the Sin City MC, who returned with 15 to “property” belts or vests adorned with “property” patches to indicate their affiliation with a specific club. However, female 20 other members and attacked the man with a machete. associates often do not display such insignia, which makes Multiple news reports evidence that outlaw bikers are willing 21,22,23,24 identifying their affiliation with an OMG more difficult. Female to fight with members of rival OMGs in public settings. associates are often extremely loyal to the club and assist The fact that OMGs are well-organized and primed to respond swiftly with aggression in the event of a members with illegal activities. ED personnel should be aware that women who arrive to see an injured outlaw biker may carry member being injured should make ED personnel alert law weapons or drugs for the biker or members of his club. enforcement with greater urgency in the event that supporters Rivalries among OMGs can lead to a war when 2 or more of the injured biker start to congregate at the hospital. OMGs are vying for territory. If the members of rival OMG As motorcyclists, their mobility aids them in evading law Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 526 Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014 Bosmia et al Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs 2. Kowalenko T. Violence against ED workers a growing problem. meet each other in the ED waiting room, a violent altercation Emergency Physicians Monthly Web site. Available at: http://www. is inevitable. Emergency physicians should inquire as to whether an outlaw biker’s injuries are secondary to a conflict epmonthly.com/features/current-features/violence-against-ed- with a rival OMG. If members of a rival OMG injured the workers-a-growing-problem/. Accessed November 12, 2013. biker, the biker’s adversaries may come to the hospital to finish 3. Moore CD Sr. Maintaining security when gang members visit your the job. Although these incidents are rare, they do occur. ER. Hospital, School & University Campus Safety Magazine Web ED personnel must be aware that outlaw bikers do not site. Available at : http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/Channel/ always resemble the stereotypical “drunken, swaggering Hospital-Security/Articles/Print/Story/2012/06/Gangs-Healthcare- Hells Angel of 1969.” Many outlaw bikers are clean cut, Security-Preparation-Education-Are-the-Keys.aspx. Accessed and some even prefer 4-wheeled vehicles. Many OMGs November 12, 2013. consider themselves to be in a perpetual state of war with 4. DeVito C. The encyclopedia of international organized crime. law enforcement. Thus, police officers providing security Checkmark Books. 2005. Print. in the ED, especially if they are in uniform, may have an 5. National Alliance of Gang Investigators’ Associations. 2009. Quick inflammatory effect on bikers who arrive at the hospital. guide to gangs. Elkhorn: National Gang Intelligence Center – Federal Bureau of Investigation. CONCLUSION 6. Quinn JF. Sex roles and hedonism among members of outlaw ED personnel may encounter outlaw bikers who motorcycle clubs. Deviant Behavior. 1987;8:47-63. have been injured in motor vehicle accidents or through 7. Quinn JF, Forsyth CJ. Leathers and rolexs: The symbolism and interpersonal violence. Knowing the hues of local OMGs and values of the motorcycle club. Deviant Behavior. 2009;30:1-31. their support and satellite clubs and recognizing the “1%” 8. History of the Chosen Few motorcycle club. Chosen Few Motorcycle patch can assist ED personnel in anticipating gang-related Club Web site. Available at: http://www.chosenfewmc.org/. Accessed violence. Determining the cause of the biker’s injuries is January 14, 2014. critical, as scenarios in which a biker has been injured by 9. Black motorcycle clubs. Black Motorcycle Clubs & Black Bike Rides enemies of his club or by a citizen can predispose the biker and his associates to hostile behavior. Outlaw bikers follow a Web site. Available at: http://blackmotorcycleclubs.net/index.php/ pack mentality that demands that every member support each black-motorcycle-clubs. Accessed January 14, 2014. 7,19 member to the utmost. Treating these men respectfully at all 10. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. 2010. Outlaw motorcycle times is of paramount importance to decrease the likelihood gangs. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. of aggression in the ED. Although OMGs share characteristics 11. Rocky Mountain Information Network. 2010. Gangs: Their increasing of many other types of gangs in the U.S., members sport grip on the nation. A special report from rocky mountain information idiosyncratic symbols that reflect the values and hierarchy network. Phoenix: Rocky Mountain Information Network. of their OMG culture. Knowledge of the OMG’s symbols, 12. Davis RH. Outlaw motorcyclists: A problem for police (part 2). FBI values, and hierarchy can help ED personnel understand Law Enforcement Bulletin. 1982;51:16-22. the mentality of the outlaw biker. The authors hope that this 13. Watson MJ. Righteousness on two wheels. Sociological Spectrum. article will encourage ED personnel to conduct formal studies 1982;2:333-349. that focus on outlaw bikers who arrive at the ED for treatment 14. Urdang M, Mallek JT, Mallon WK. Tattoos and piercings: A review and the outcomes of such visits. for the emergency department physician. West J Emerg Med. 2011;12:393-398. Address for Correspondence: Christoph Griessenauer, 15. Kemp MR. Independent bikers: An ethnography of a biker MD, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department community. Texas Tech University. 1989:86. of Neurosurgery, 1720 Second Avenue South, FOT 1062, 16. Riviello R. Manual of forensic emergency medicine: A guide for Birmingham, AL 35294-3410. Email: cgriessenauer@uabmc.edu. clinicians. Jones & Bartlett Learning. 2009. Print. 17. Lavigne Y. Hells Angels: Three can keep a secret if two are dead. Conflicts of Interest: By the WestJEM article submission Lyle Stuart, Carol Publishing Group.1985. agreement, all authors are required to disclose all affiliations, 18. Allen P. Violence in the emergency department: Tools & strategies funding sources and financial or management relationships that to create a violence-free ED. Springer Publishing Company. 2009. could be perceived as potential sources of bias. The authors disclosed none. Print. 19. Quinn JF, Forsyth CJ. Evolving themes in the subculture of the REFERENCES outlaw biker. International Journal of Crime, Criminal Justice and 1. Strategies for managing violence against ED personnel. Physician’s Weekly Law. 2007;2:143-158. Web site. Available at: http://www.physiciansweekly.com/emergency- 20. Machete attack by “outlaw” motorcycle club sends man to hospital. department-violence-prevention/. Accessed November 12, 2013. ABC News Web site. Available at: http://www.abc22now.com/shared/ Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014 527 Western Journal of Emergency Medicine Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Bosmia et al news/top-stories/stories/wkef_vid_11873.shtml. Accessed October 1, violence’ at airport. Daily Mail Web site. Available from: http://www. 2013. dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1172393/Biker-gangs-brawled-machete- 21. 21. Outlaw motorcycle gangs blamed for bloody brawl at North Point busy-airport.html. Accessed October 1, 2013. flea market. CBS News Web site. Available from: http://baltimore. 25. Woodward R. Law officer shot Hells Angels member in Sturgis, cbslocal.com/2012/11/13/outlaw-motorcycle-gangs-blamed-for- police say. Rapid City Journal Web site. Available from: http:// bloody-brawl-at-north-point-flea-market/. Accessed October 1, 2013. rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/law-officer-shot-hells-angels- 22. Hells Angels and Outlaws biker gangs jailed for airport riot. Telegraph member-in-sturgis-police-say/article_23f959b7-86ef-56b2-88cc- Web site. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ f3a8ceadc9cc.html. Accessed October 1, 2013. law-and-order/5579341/Hells-Angels-and-Outlaws-biker-gangs-jailed- 26. Roline CE, Wang S. Be aware of the high risk associated with “fight for-airport-riot.html. Accessed October 1, 2013. bites”. In: Mattu A, Chanmugam AS, Swadron SP, Tibbles CD, 23. Two people suffer stab wounds after biker gang-related fight Woolridge DP, eds. Avoiding Common Errors in the Emergency in Greeley. The Tribune Web site. Available from: http://www. Department. Philadelphia PA: Wolters Kluwer. Lippincott, Williams, greeleytribune.com/news/6560635-113/police-fight-gang-bar. and Wilkins; 2010:1152. Accessed October 1, 2013. 27. Quinn JF, Forsyth CJ. The tools, tactics, and mentality of outlaw biker 24. Dolan A. Bikers wielded machete and meat cleaver in bout of ‘mob wars. American Journal of Criminal Justice. 2011;36:216-230. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 528 Volume XV, NO. 4 : July 2014

Journal

Western Journal of Emergency MedicinePubmed Central

Published: Jul 1, 2014

There are no references for this article.