Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice published a report by ATF on motorcycle gangs. The report was made public not too long ago and was passed on to me by one of the readers of my Blog. Based on what I read, ATF seems to publish this report annually dating back to 2010. I’ve read the report, and to be honest, there isn’t much to say which is why I guess the media didn’t write about it other than to write that the report actually exists. To be honest, my catechism classes, which I eventually got kicked out of, was more revealing an interesting.
The fact is, the ATF Report doesn’t reveal anything that any biker with more than a few thousand miles on their bike and who has attended a few bike nights already knows. I actually joked with my friend and asked him how do we get a gig writing ATF reports?
The Report, pretty much based on nothing, explaining nothing, other than beware of the Boogey Man who is everywhere and apparently, is now a full patched member of the OMG community. I know this to be true because the OMG continues “to spread its tentacles throughout all facets of government” (See page 2).
On a positive note, I think it is important to devour as much information as you can. As they say, knowledge is power, so…. I learned that OMG no longer means “oh my god” when texting, but means Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. So, unless you want the NSA all over you, don’t type OMG anymore in your text messages.
I originally started off by dissecting all the shortcomings in the ATF Report, but after a while, realized it was an exercise in futility. Your best bet is to read the report yourself after 13 hours of sleep and with a strong cup of coffee in hand. WARNING– that may not be enough!
The ATF report is a study on members of OMGs (outlaw motorcycle gangs) and their connection to the military, including various branches of government, whether at the local, state, or federal level.
“OMGs and their support clubs continue to court active-duty military personnel and government workers, both civilians and contractors, for their knowledge, reliable income, tactical skills and dedication to a cause” (see page 2). The report even states that “even though ATF does not consider military-oriented motorcycle clubs OMGs, they are beginning to inherit OMG traits and mannerisms” (see page 5). If you know your club history, then you know that clubs began because of those that served in our military during times of war.
There is no denying that those who are in pressure filled, intense situations with others, tend to have a unique bond that most of us cannot even begin to understand. Take for instance fire fighters, police & law enforcement, and especially the military. Those groups stick together and defend each other no matter what. In my profession, I have yet to see or experience that. Actually, it’s quite the opposite.
A high profile attorney a few years ago was accused of representing a client with “tainted money.” The state attorney proceeded to try him and lost; the defense attorney having been acquitted of all charges. Attorneys did not flock to help him, they just whispered behind his back. Sadly, most jobs and professions are the same. However, I cannot say the same of law enforcement or the military. As a matter of fact, I’m envious of them.
To have survived the atrocities of war whether in a foreign land or war in the concrete jungle of our suburbs, a certain brotherhood is created. Law enforcement and members of the military are brother-in-arms, the common bond being the tragedies of war, the dangers of their chosen profession, and dealing with the human race at its worst.
In my profession, we have a saying: in criminal law you see the worst people at their best and in family law, you see good people at their worst. There is no denying my profession has affected my view of humanity, imagine for law enforcement and the military where they only see and deal with the bad. Mind you, the bad we don’t want to see or deal with.
They continue to go unappreciated and taken for granted. I’ll lump my profession in with law enforcement only to the extent that no one likes an attorney or cop until you need one. We are not perfect, and that includes law enforcement or the military, but, take a minute and try to imagine a world without them. Take my word for it, it’s a world you don’t want to live in. There are all types in this world and fact is, David Grossman’s quote on sheep, sheep dogs, and wolves could not better explain the world we live in.
To open up about myself, I will say I detest violence. I wish it never existed. Maybe I am an idealistic modern-generation hippie born 10 years too late, but, I also clearly understand that violence is a necessary evil. To borrow from Churchill, I am a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
As I write this on a Sunday afternoon, the sun is shining over Miami, I’m on the terrace enjoying a cold Heineken, while one of my crazy dogs relaxes in the pool. I’m many things, naïve or ungrateful is not one of them.
Yesterday was D-day, and because of those brave men I continue to enjoy the privileges that I have, beginning with my freedom. Born in the United States from two first generation born Cuban parents, I have a better understanding than most of what freedom is. To simplify, I wouldn’t change a damn thing about my life or where I was born. There is no doubt I am proud to be an American. I have said many times before and will say it again: “I don’t live in a perfect country, but I live in the greatest damn country in the world.”
Never forget your past or your history. There is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. Fact is, embrace it, learn from it, and do the best you can to make sure you leave the world a better place than when you first came in. Give an attorney a laptop and he goes off on a tangent. Back to the M.C.s.
Motorcycle Clubs know their history. Start with Harley Davidson and Indian Motorcycles. Most clubs including LEMC’s (law enforcement motorcycle clubs) require you ride an “American” motorcycle to be part of their club. Why? Because during the war, service men were trained to ride on Harleys or Indian Motorcycles. Harley Davidson was contracted by the U.S. Government in both WWI & WWII, which most likely led to H.D. surviving the Great Depression.
Being part of an M.C. means there is a brotherhood and a bond of loyalty that may best be understood by those who have served. I find loyalty rare these days, but I don’t amongst law enforcement and/or motorcycle clubs. Thus, it only makes sense for M.C.’s to return to their roots.
The world has changed. I remember reading the Valachi Papers in college. The Valachi Papers was a biography on Joseph Valachi, the first government witness from the Mafia. Back in the day, no one “flipped” or “ratted out.” Now, it has become commonplace.
An informant obviously has his own interests and agenda and they do what they do for themselves. Of course, there are still plenty of stories of law enforcement or club members becoming informants to reduce their jail sentences as well as stories law enforcement personnel or military members who risked their lives or died to protect their own or even strangers. They understand the complex formula of sacrificing the life of one to save many; exactly what you want in a law enforcement officer and/or a M.C. If you don’t believe me, just look at what the New York Fire Department did on 911.
According to the ATF Report, there are OMG members employed by the government at the local, state, and federal level in positions from defense contractors, active-duty military, National Guard, police and fire departments, parking authority, water & sewage, and “even more disheartening 911 call centers” (see page 3).
The government (local, state, federal) is the largest employer in the United States. It would only make sense that they employ club members. I’m sure they also employ the most attorneys, mechanics, whites, blacks, and Hispanics.
Now, applying logic to this equation, why is a government employee part of a “criminal gang?” Those listed above are not the type of people who lack intelligence or are easily swayed by peer pressure. So, a government official risks his salary, his way of supporting his home and family, his pension, benefits, and freedom for…? Silly me, I didn’t add the Jax Teller effect into my equation.
M.C.’s expanding and creating new chapters is normal and expected. Take for instance the incident at Waco. Supposedly, the Bandidos Motorcycle Club has issues with the Cossacks Motorcycle Club wearing the Texas bottom rocker. The Cossacks are not paying dues to the Bandidos. The media or the government will argue they are “fighting for turf,” a term I have always disagreed with.
“Fighting for turf” sounds scarier than the truth; they are fighting over money. You see in the movies drug dealers “fighting for turf,” but the bottom line is they are fighting for money. Maybe it’s just semantics but, if Target sues Wal-Mart because they don’t want Wal-Mart in the same parking lot as them- are they “fighting for turf” or money? With hundreds of chapters within a given state, this adds up to a lot of money if each chapter is paying monthly dues.
Now, whether fighting for turf or money, it is fighting nonetheless. In a perfect world this wouldn’t happen. But, from a practical standpoint, what other options are there? Going to court isn’t an option and no one wants to give in either. The motorcycle community is not made up of choir boys, I am the first one to admit that. I am also the first one to admit that violence only brings on more violence and sometimes the innocent get hurt or worse. But this entire report focuses on clubs infiltrating the government as some sort of thought out conspiracy by the MC world to take over. It reminded me of one of my favorite shows “The Americans.” If I were you, I’d still worry more about a cager while riding your motorcycle.
Specific incidents are mentioned as well as photos of club members in the military serving in Afghanistan, proudly showing their clubs’ T-shirts. Because these brave men are risking their lives, I get to ride my motorcycle to Sturgis this year; so let them wear whatever the hell they want whenever they want.
Our soldiers are alone in foreign land protecting us, and what they wear shouldn’t concern anyone. I’m more worried about whether they make it home alive all in one piece than what T-Shirt they are flashing on Facebook. Which brings up another point- no one is hiding! They are all on Facebook! And to be clear, if you are one of “those guys,” if you ever see me, introduce yourself because I owe you a beer my friend.
Acts of violence are reported, but when you mention 143 acts of reported violence in one year, you won’t get my attention. There are more acts of violence in one day in a major city. Considering there are hundreds of chapters with thousands of members, that number really seems insignificant.
Even situations are cited that one club was to kill other club members on site, but the paragraph ends with “eventually the turmoil was defused” or “no violence was reported” (pg. 11). Basically, rumors were included in the report.
Based on this report, I would not yet hide the women and children if a club rolls into town. And if you come across one of our military members, a cold beer and a thank you would go a long way with them; they deserve that to say the least.
Thank God for the Sheep Dogs.