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Posts Tagged ‘Hells Angels’

Semi-Truck Fire closes I-90 at Sturgis Rally - 2010

Semi-Truck Fire closes I-90 at Sturgis Rally – 2010

At the 2012 Sturgis Rally attendance was up 7% (official est. at 450K) and in all, the city of Sturgis spent approximately $960K to host the 6-day event which generated nearly $1.4M in revenue.  Nearly $400K profit for the city which has more than double the net profit from the 2011 rally at $197K.  There were 1,012 vendors registered vs. 976 in 2011 and gross sales by vendors were $13.1M compared to $12.6M in 2011.

sturgis-flagAnd the man who made Sturgis?  There are several who come to mind, but one near the top of the list would be Steven Piehl, the Harley executive who invented the Harley Owners Group (HOG).  In 1983, Mr. Piehl worked under Harley’s General Sales Manager, Clyde Fessler, and was given 3 months to launch the program.  They promoted the rally to hundreds of thousands of HOG members and is at least in part responsible for the transformation of Sturgis from a biker party into a profit center.  Mr. Piehl was inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame last year and received the JC “Pappy” Hoel Outstanding Achievement Award for establishing HOG.

HD-Sturgis3Motoring USA is the consultant group that essentially coordinates the Sturgis rally for the city as they help line-up sponsors (Harley-Davidson, Dodge, Jack Daniels, Geico etc.), vendors and publish the official rally magazine.  For their 2012 services they were paid more than $308K ($163K commissions/fees and $145K to publish the official guide).  Ironically, the city of Sturgis paid the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc., $26,944 in licensing fees to use the “Sturgis” name!  Clearly corporate America has found the motorcyclist market and made the profit driven transformation.

Sturgis-night12

Main Street Sturgis at Dusk

Those are a few of the financial aspects of the motorcycle rally.  Sadly, 9 people died at last year’s rally-related accidents and collisions.  In 2011 there were 4 deaths.  And you might have been one of the unlucky riders trapped on the freeway in 2010 after a semi-trailer caught fire (video HERE) and closed the interstate (see above photo)?

It’s also well known that at the Sturgis Rally large numbers of law enforcement descend on the area to make sure those 450,000+ bikers don’t get out of hand.  On any typical week the city has 15 officers to keep the community of 6700 safe.  During rally week it pays a hefty amount for law enforcement hiring people from nine different states.  The city police budget in August is estimated to be in excess of $300K to cover salaries, equipment and other expenses for the event.  Visiting officers are housed and receive two meals a day.  In addition, there are also significant numbers of federal agents (FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshals Service, the National Guard, the Bureau of Land Management and even the National Forest Service) on hand.

loud-american

Loud American Roadhouse (L)

However, budget cuts known as sequestration have stalled the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives attendance and for 2013 there will be fewer federal agents available to keep an eye on things for the first time in 10 years.  The value of announcing this information to the public prior to the rally is interesting.  Is it to alarm the public?  Is it an open invitation for the motorcycle clubs to restart some of the “wild times” prevalent in years past?  Historically, more than 20 ATF agents patrol Sturgis during the Rally.  This year there will one agent in Rapid City who will be on call when the rally officially starts on August 5th.

Remember the 2006 rally shootout between the Outlaws and Hells Angels at Custer?  How about back in 2008 when Sturgis ended with the first shooting in over 20-years where the Iron Pigs (off-duty Seattle LEO – Ronald Smith) had a confrontation with the Hell’s Angels (Joseph McGuire) at the Loud American Roadhouse?  Anytime there is a large gathering of people, there is a potential for an incident, but I would anticipate if any intelligence or threat hits the radar we’ll see it rain law enforcement personnel sequestration or not.

It wasn’t too long ago, the rough, anti-materialistic, anti-authoritarian attitudes showed up on motorcycles en-masse at Sturgis.  The motor company that helped put Sturgis on the map and was once so revered that men tattooed its name on their arms, is now more about demographics, international expansion in China and India and tapping female consumer spending.  For example, Claudia Garber, Harley’s Director of Women’s Marketing Outreach, worked the 2012 rally to convince affluent, professional women that Harleys are really fun to ride.

Yes, the transformation of Sturgis from a quaint biker party into an enormous profit center is fully complete.  Stay classy Sturgis!

Interstate photo courtesy of Renegade Wheels, other photos taken by author at 2012 Sturgis Rally.  The 2012 Sturgis stats are HERE (.pdf).

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Gary Stuart “Jabbers” Rudnick

UPDATE: June 4, 2014 – As part of a plea deal to testify against fellow Vagos, Nevada Judge Connie Steinheimer sentenced Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick to seven years in prison on August 21, 2013.   The ex-president of Vagos Nicaragua, Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez was sentenced to life in prison on October 3, 2013 with the possibility of parole after 20-years.

Between motorcycle manufactures, affinity groups, retailers, mechanics and aftermarket accessories, there is a wide support network of resources for our motorcycles.  More important is that many of us are looking for the same thing from the motorcycle community which means finding others who share similar interests, getting involved and contributing our time and resources to help others and the motorcycle community at large.

And speaking of motorcycle ambassadors of peace and spreading goodwill around the world…

Let’s talk Vagos and Hells Angels.  Recently, the Washoe County Grand Jury testimony was released and the proceedings outline the resulting indictments of three men accused in the shooting of  Jeffrey Pettigrew, the San Jose HAMC chapter president during Street Vibrations in September 2011 at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks.  The grand jury was conducted by two Washoe County Deputy District Attorneys named Karl Hall and Amos Stege. The full transcript is about 60,000 words long.

No, I’m not moving the blog into the “True Crime” genre.  I’m re-publishing the testimony from Confidential Source #11-67 who was previously identified as former Vago Jacob Cancelli because it provides a disappointing look into the world of motorcycle clubs and some of their members.  Mr. Cancelli was one of the 14 witnesses who appeared before the Washoe County Grand Jury on November 9, 2011.  I have yet to received a copy of the Grand Jury transcript, but this information comes courtesy of the Aging Rebel blog and I want to provide a shout out on his deep coverage of the topic.

Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez (L)

As quick background; Vago Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez is accused of fatally shooting the HAMC president.  Hells Angel Cesar Villagrana is accused of shooting two other Vagos.  And Vagos Stuart Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick is charged with instigating the fight that led to the fatal shooting.

Here is a partial transcript from the Sparks Grand Jury testimony:

The Informer (Confidential Source #11-67; former Vago Jacob Cancelli)

Question (Q): Sir I am going to refer to you as Confidential Source 11-67, all right?

Answer (A): Yes….

Q. Are you familiar with the Vagos motorcycle club?

A. Yes. I have been a Vagos for twenty-seven years. I have been involved with Vagos for twenty-seven years. I moved up the ranks to a very high rank of Vagos within the last few months. Before this event took place, I was in the higher echelon, echelon, excuse me, of the club.

Q. Were you at the Nugget on the 23rd of September, 2011?

A. Yes, I was.

Q. Are you familiar…I am showing you or behind you videoed surveillance tape that was captured from the Oyster Bar. It is Vagos-H.A. Oyster Bar two at about 22:13 hours or about 10:13 p.m. on that day. Do you recognize some of the individuals that are depicted in that video?

A. Yes.

Q. All right. I am going to play a little bit of that video. Are you familiar with Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. How are you familiar with him?

A. Through the club.

Q. You can identify him?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know Cesar Villagrana?

A. Yes.

Q. How do you know him?

A. Through the club.

Q. Through the club?

A. Yes.

Q. All right. How about Mr. Pettigrew, Jeffrey also known as Jethro Pettigrew?

A. Yes, I can identify him, too.

Q. Can you identify an individual by the name of Gary Stuart Rudnick?

A. What is his….

Q. “Jabbers?”

A. Yes.

Q. So “Jabbers” would be a nickname?

A. Yes.

Q. All right. Having been at the Nugget, were you over in the Oyster Bar on the night in question, the 23rd?

A. Yes.

Q. All right.

A. That is me right there.

Q. That would be you?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you familiar with what was going on that night?

A. Yes.

Q. Was there any tension between the Hells Angels motorcycle club and the Vagos motorcycle club?

A. Yes, there was.

Q. What was the nature of that tension?

A. What had happened is that, if I might go through this, may go through this, I got a call. I was by the east elevator bar over there.

We got a call there was a problem with the Hells Angels. So when we got that call, we moved towards the area of the Oyster Bar, and at that time, when I went to the Oyster Bar in this corner here, the corner…Is this the Oyster Bar here?

Q. Yes?

A. That’s the back bar, right?

Q. So it bears over on the left-hand corner.

A. Okay. Right here where you see this little area here, it is a little box. There is an opening behind it. Rght there is where “Jabbers” was at, at the time when I first came up, and Pettigrew.

Q. What was going on between “Jabbers” or Mr. Rudnick and Mr. Pettigrew?

A. Well, when I walked up, there was a lot of Vagos that were around.

And I took a look over there, and they both came out, and “Jabbers”

was very upset. And he just kept on talking, kept on talking, kept on talking. And he kept taunting Pettigrew. What he was saying was the likes of, “I don’t know you. You don’t have a right to touch me. What are you doing?” You know. “I don’t even need to talk to you,” things of that nature, really pushing on top of him. Pettigrew’s response back to him was, “Hey, man, you know, I was just having a good time. I just want to have a beer,”

basically. He wasn’t in no shape or form upset at that time. Top Hat, who is this gentleman right here, is a twenty-year what you call a Nomad for a member. I have known Top Hat for twenty-six years. He was there when we get to that point to talk in conversation with Pettigrew. What had happened is that we were talking to Pettigrew. He was cool. He was just saying, “Hey man, everything is good. I have no problem.” “Jabbers” comes up and “Jabbers” then starts taunting him.

You know, “You had no right touching me.” What he meant by “touching”, he just tapped him on the back, basically. You know, what my insinuation was, he tapped him on the back. He said, “Hey, do you want to have a beer?” “Jabbers” took it as an offensive thing, pushed out his chest because, of course, there was a lot more Vagos than there were Hells Angels. So he kept on taunting. He wouldn’t stop. So I told him, I said, “Listen, shut the fuck up.” Excuse my French, but I have to tell you the way it went. I said, “Shut the fuck up. Get the fuck out of here.” He backed up for a minute, then he come back again. I said, “I told you to leave.” He says, “Hey, hey, don’t worry.” I said, “I told you to leave.” Now me, in my position, he has to listen to me.

So what happens is that Pettigrew and I are talking. He comes back up again, and then Pettigrew looks at him. I am going to call him Jethro.

Jethro looks at him and he says to Jethro, “You know I don’t know why you had to touch me.” He says, you know, “Just talk to me.” He said, “I don’t need to talk to you,” this and this, whatever. Jethro lost it. He got pissed off.

Q. Jethro Pettigrew is mad at “Jabbers” or Rudnick?

A For taunting him, taunting him, taunting him. He finally just said, “Listen, I don’t need to fucking talk to you no more.” He turned around and walked away.

Q. We have that depicted on the video. Let’s see, Mr. Rudnick also known as “Jabbers” and so we are at 22:13:40?

A. We are looking at him right now.

Q. Can I ask you to back up so we can see? I have a pointer right here. We can kind of identify people. Now this individual at the bottom left-hand corner?

A. Gonzales.

Q. Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez?

A. Yes.

Q. Is he associated…How would be he associated with Mr. Rudnick or “Jabbers”?

A. He would be associated just as a brother, but he’s an underling because “Jabbers” is a V.P., Vice President. So at any moment, if “Jabbers” was to ask him for assistance to back him up, he would do it. So Mr. Gonzalez is basically the backup to Mr. Rudnick because Rudnick is a Vice President in the Vagos. “Jabbers,” yes, and here is Pettigrew right there. That is him. All he’s doing, he’s just trying, shaking people’s hand, saying hello. That is his MO, tapping, say hello, whatever. This is when I come over, because “Jabbers” is having serious issues. So this is Top Hat, Gonzalez, they call him Romeo, that is his nickname. There is “Jabbers” right there. So I go over there. I am talking to him for a minute, and I told him…and here is this guy that was backing him up. This is the guy that says I won’t leave my Vice President. He’s an L.A. charter. This is Bret from South Bay, South Bay member. I think that is Bret right there from South Bay.

Q. Did you go over and talk to Pettigrew?

A. Yes. This is Pettigrew right here, Hells Angels President. I am over there talking to him. And this is Crusher, his name is Leo Ramirez. He’s one of the guys that got shot.

Q. Leonard Ramirez, the person that got shot in the stomach?

A. Yes, he did. He watches over me. That was his job. And I am talking to Top Hat here. And what we were trying to do is make everything at ease right here, settle everybody, to back them off. We don’t want nobody in there.

Q. You were trying to diffuse the situation, avoid an altercation?

A. One hundred percent. See there, I am on the phone. I am trying to get in touch with some of the top, top, National members so I could tell them what is going on before this thing turns into a problem.

Q. Now were there a lot of Vagos meeting at the Nugget that weekend?

A. Yes.

Q. Had there been a meeting earlier that day at the Nugget?

A. Yes. We had a meeting at 8:00 o’clock in the West towers.

Q. Approximately how many Vagos members attended that meeting?

A. Over five hundred. There was a Vagos members meeting. Right afterward, there was a Prospect meeting. Then right after that, there was a Nomad meeting. Nomad, which means there is gentlemen Vagos in the club that have been in the club twenty years or over. And there was a Nomad force there. They had the third meeting. After this meeting took place and everything, we remained downstairs again.

Q. All right. We can still see Mr. Gonzales in the bottom right-hand corner, Mr. Rudnick or “Jabbers” there kind of in the middle, I think that would be.

A. There is “Jabbers” talking to Top Hat. That is his wife. Top Hat is trying to talk to him, but “Jabbers” is not paying attention. He’s just getting more and more frustrated. See by Top Hat’s demeanor when he’s talking to him, basically telling him he has to back up, just relax. Can we go back for a moment, please?

Q. Yes. I am getting there. Bear with me. It is more.

A. That’s it right there.

Q. We’ll get there.

A. There I am. I have got everybody for the back.  That is Bob. He is the Vice President of the San Jose Hells Angels. I went up to Bob. I was talking to him, and he said, “Everything is going to be all right.” He says, “I am getting too old for this.” I said, “I am getting to old for this, too.” We shook each other hands.  A lot of people around didn’t like what was going on. But I talked to his Hang-around. I am talking to the guy. Now Top Hat goes back.

Everybody is a little bit tight. And there is “Jabbers” right there.

Q. Rudnick went back over to where Pettigrew was?

A. Yes. I go back in. I am getting angry. I told him already to go. When I go…Leo’s name is Crusher, the Vagos name we call him.

Q. Leonard, Leo, Crusher, they are all the same….

A. Yes.

Q. …guy?

A. Crusher, Leo, is right here. He has to watch me. I am telling him to leave.

Q. You are telling “Jabbers” to leave?

A. He’s trying to tell him, “What is going on? Don’t touch me.” He’s, “Listen, I was just playing around.” So him, Top Hat and I are telling “Jabbers”, I put my hand on “Jabber,” said, “back off.” I said, “Get out of here.” Basically just leave. I am telling him. That is his essay.

Q. What happened after that? Did Mr. Rudnick, “Jabbers”, say anything about the situation?

A. Yeah. What happened is that “Jabbers” kept taunting him.

Q. Taunting Pettigrew?

A. Taunting Pettigrew. What happened is Pettigrew then got angry and he says, “I don’t need to talk to you no more,” basically. And he walks away. So I tell everybody to walk out. “Jabbers” and Top Hat sit right here at the video, and “Jabbers” is drunk, and he tells Top Hat, he says, “Why are Nomads always getting involved with our business?”

Nomads are, the Nomad Vagos are Vagos. We are all one. But still, they are there to help out. Nomads are there to help out, and each one of the charters of the Vagos, for any type of encouragement if someone has a problem, whatever. They can come into any meeting they want to at any time to hear what is going on within the structure of each charter. He give Top Hat, he has a beard, a full beard, and he says, “You got this much time, because I made a call to the guys. They were still upstairs, the National members. This is the International Vice President, Secretary, Sergeant at Arms, all the way upstairs talking.

What I then did was made a call to the National President and he didn’t answer the phone. I then called the National President Nomads, Rocky, and we talked and he says, “Come up here immediately.” I walked. Then he says, Top Hat, I am right next to Top Hat, “If you guys don’t get down here, something’s going to happen.”

Q. What did he mean by that?

A. It is going to get it on, move without anybody’s, you know, permission or anything.

Q. When you say get it on, Vagos are going to fight with Hells Angels?

A. One hundred percent. So I got pissed off at him. Right at that point, being who I am, I could have smacked him in the mouth, knocked him out, but I didn’t choose to do that. I went upstairs, because this is a big deal going on here. When I went upstairs, I talked to Dragonman and Dragonman and Rocky are up there. We are talking about the situation, what happened. I told him Jabbers is drunk. I told him that, you know, he was taunting the guy. And I told him it is going to turn into a real bad thing real quick, because us and Hells Angels don’t get along too well at all because of past history. So what they did is they formed their little group. They came downstairs. They walked around. They came back down to the bar where no one was allowed. All Vagos were backing up at that time. They went into the bar. Pettigrew was there, Jethro, and they talked to Jethro and they talked to Bobby V and everything was diffused. They said everything’s cool. Jethro says he didn’t want no issues. There is no problems. They said, okay, everything is fine. There is no problems here. Everything is cool. The problem is, when you have a lot of people, when you have over five hundred people from a particular organization, you can’t get the word out to everybody at one time. That is the problem. So they came walking back. And I don’t know if you want to go through that area.

Q. Well, we’ll get to that area. But before I get there, can I talk a little bit about the organization of the Vagos organization?

A. Absolutely.

Q. All right. So can you tell us about how the organization is structured? You talked about the hierarchy, the upper echelon?

A. How it is structured is that you have a panel that are called International who are what you call the top of the whole Green Nation Vagos Motorcycle Club. It starts with the International President, then goes International Vice President, International Secretary, International Sergeant at Arms, International Road Captain.

Q. What are their duties? What are they charged with, those different people?

A. Road Captain is on the road. He basically takes over the pack or the charter, whoever is on the road with him. The International Road Captain, at all times you have to obey what he has to say when you are on the road with the Road Captain, because it is the road. What happens is, when he takes a pack anywhere, whether it is to Vegas, Reno, whatever, everybody has to follow his direction. He controls it on the freeway. Sergeant at Arms, when you are off the bikes and you are out and about, Sergeant of Arms position is to make sure that nobody, absolutely nobody guests hurt, has any problems. I am talking Vagos members. Okay. Each Vagos charter has the same type of set up.

You have your President, you have your Vice President, you have your Secretary, you have your Sergeant at Arms, and you have your Raod Captain. Now each one of them have to follow pretty much the same direction. So the International President, he runs the club. The International Vice President assists him in running the club. He’s like what you call a concierge, tells him, delegates certain things to him, what he thinks he should do. The Secretary takes care of, you know, the books, Bylaws, things of that nature. At the end, the Secretary combines everything and puts it together. The Sergeant at Arms, his position is to protect the President, International President at all times, at all cost no matter what it is. Okay. If the International President was here at the time, the first thing was to protect him from all members, because it read that way in the Bylaws.

In the Bylaws it says that, number one, start off with the International President. At all times the International President is to be respected under any circumstances, wartime or whatever, wherever he’s at. That is the way it runs and that is the way it operates.

Q. Is respect an important part of the Vagos creed and the Vagos code?

A. Absolutely. Right underneath that part of the Bylaws there is a thing call PBTs. The PBTs are…The PBTs are in essence underneath the International President. They are what you call a higher king of the whole club. Anyone that disrespects them faces serious, serious consequences. Anybody from any chapter, say for instance there is a Riverside chapter. Say for instance there is an L.A. chapter. Say for instance members of the L.A. chapter come up to the President of the other chapter and says words to him, he reports that to the President, and then he could take care of it the way he wants to. Or this President takes care of it the way he thinks is peaceable. They talk about it. They come to a remedy. Most of the time, most of the time when disrespect gets out of order, they don’t call the patch no more.

They became Prospect again. Sometimes they get a beating. So if the guy has been around a long time, what they will do is Prospect him.

Now how it operates, to become a Vagos member, you have got to hang around first. It is called Hang-around. From Hang-around, if we feel everything is good and you are a good person to come into the club, we feel you could do the right thing within the club, from that standpoint it goes from Hang-around to Prospect. When you became a Prospect, the minimum amount of time for Prospects are six months minimum amount of time. It depends on your actions. It depends how you are. But even though you are a Prospect for one charter, because there is a lot of charters of the Vagos, illustration, for instance southern California, Rivera, if there was a Prospect for southern California Rivera that belongs to me or belongs to another individual, at that time, that Prospect then not only belongs to me but has to have the respect of all and everybody until such time as he earns the patch. So wherever he has to travel, wherever he has to go, whatever he has to do, he does as a Prospect to earn that patch.

Q. So for example if you have prospects that made the trip up to Reno, what would they be tasked to do or told to do?

A. Well, that is when you had the second meeting with the prospects. And the prospects are usually told, I wasn’t at the Prospect meeting, but have respect, shake everybody’s hand, get to meet everybody, say hello. But in any situation, when a situation like that happened, you will see in this video there is a Prospect that is walking through, and they will up the command of their sponsor, move into a battle if they are told to, because if they don’t, they are gone.

Q. Do Vagos typically carry a weapon?

A. There is a lot of Vagos that carry weapons.

Q. Is that part — Is everybody required to carry weapons or is it just your own personal choice?

A. Well, it is basically personal choice. You are not required to carry a weapon. Most of the time, probably ninety-six percent of the club carries a knife, a pretty long knife, a knife that could create damage.

Q. What about guns?

A. Yes, they carry guns.

Q. Are they an outlaw gang?

A. Yes.

Q. Are they involved in criminal activity?

A. Absolutely.

Q. What kind of criminal activity would that include?

A. Murder, rape, robbery, drugs, all types.

Q. Now we were talking about the patch. What is it? Is there a symbol that the Vagos have?

A. Well, laymen’s term, there are two parts of the Vagos. I mean a pack of guys riding into the wind, motorcycle gypsies. The Loki on the back the thing that looks like the demon, it is called a Norse God of Mischief. And those are, it is a very mythological term. It means, for instance, super natural. It means germantic mythology. It means neo-paganism. It means to slaughter. There is a lot of meanings to the Loki. That is basically it. If you took any time and looked, you could see for yourself what it means. It comes out of mythology, not from here but from Germany, from the Netherlands and some EEC countries.

Q. All right. I was just, if you could look behind you, I have displayed a jacket. So when we are talking about the patch, full patch member, is this the patch I am pointing to with the Loki?

A. Yeah. This right here is the Vagos patch. This is the rocker that represents where you are from.

Q. Did somebody say something?

A. This is their flags, and this is the beginning of when you became a member of the Vagos motorcycle club. This patch is not on your back at first when you are a Prospect. When you are done prospecting, that patch is given to you and you have to sew that patch on. Then you take it somewhere to get it sewed on.

Q. All right now before we kind of digress into the Vagos and discussed the Vagos and hierarchy, I had a couple other questions about that. Do the Vagos have, each chapter, have regular meetings?

A. Yes. They are called church.

Q. And what do you discuss at church?

A. Church, usually it is pretty much a lot of the same things, but most of the stuff at the church that is going on is the Bylaws, the Bylaws of the Vagos way of living. To make sure they understand those Bylaws.

Everything in the Bylaws has to do with the National with the Presidents, with the members, with prospects and Vagos old ladies, their thinking of that nature. He’s laughing over there. I am going to tell you, you are going to like this, the thing about the Vagos ladies that has changed is that Vagos old ladies like to ride bikes, so they can’t ride bikes in the pack with the guys. What they have to do, they have their own Vagos lady patch that says she’s the property of such and such a member. Say for instance Leo, his wife has a rocker on her patch that says Vagos old lady belonging to Crusher, property of Crusher which means that is his property. No one can go near, disrespect or whatever. But if she wants to ride a bike and get on the bike, the rules change. If we are going out in the pack, say we are going up to, you know, coming here to Reno in a pack, she wants to ride a bike, she has to ride in the back of the pack, just like any guest or anybody of that nature. A Hang-around, the same thing.

Prospects ride in the back also. Only members ride in the front, back then there is prospects then the Vagos old ladies.

Q. Now Mr. Rudnick, what was his rank?

A. “Jabbers”?

Q. “Jabbers”?

A. Please, if you call him “Jabbers”.

Q. We’ll go with “Jabbers.” I am sorry. Rudnick, “Jabbers.”

A. He is Vice President of the Los Angeles Vagos.

Q. So would that be the higher echelon?

A. He’s the second in command of his charter.

Q. Are there people under him that are required to protect him and stand behind him and back him up in case of an altercation?

A. Absolutely. His whole charter, his Sergeant of Arms, depending on Campos. Campos was it. He holds rank. So you have to make sure he’s all right. By the same token, make sure the Vice President is okay.

They split it. Usually they will have one. Sometimes Vagos charters or chapters they will have two Sergeants of Arm in their charters. A lot of them have two. One follows the president, one follows the Vice President. So, yes, they do watch them to make sure he’s okay. Being he’s in that position, all Vagos members, who are not…who are not officers of the club, if he needs assistance, they have to assist him no matter if they are at another charter. He don’t have to ask nobody at a time when something like this goes on, pull him off to do something.

Q. All right. Now I am going to go to camera number 45.

A. Okay. This is the guy right here.

Q. There is “Jabbers” there. No, that is not “Jabbers”, excuse me, this is Garcia?

A. Yeah.

Q. Diego?

A. Diego, yes.

Q. Do you know who these women are?

A. Yeah. That is the International Secretary’s old lady, I think her name is Patty, and that is her sister.

Q. Are they associated with the Vagos?

A. They are Vagos. Lori is definitely a Vagos old lady. These are just friends of hers.

Q. Do you know what charter Diego Garcia is associated with?

A. San Jose.

Q. Now did you see Diego Garcia that evening?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you notice whether or not he had any injuries?

A. Yes. He was shot in the right leg. There is Gonzales. Romeo. That is Little Dave right there. Now he’s here. He comes over to have a discussion. This is the Sergeant at Arms for South Bay. This is Justin. He’s a Prospect. When you see his back, you will see a patch.

This gentleman is from Lake County. I think his name is Mike or Mark.

I can’t remember. You have to, even though you are in a club for a long time, there is some people in a club, there is not just a couple hundred, you know, there is over thousands of people in the club now.

Right there is “Jabbers.” Right there. He’s putting on his gloves. He’s talking to him. The reason why he’s putting on his gloves, for one reason only, is that it is a premeditated thing. They are going to start some action. This thing is going to go off. And they already have talked to each other, and he told him and he put on his gloves, because they are ready to get down with the people that will come into the picture here shortly. See his gloves going on?

Q. Are these Hells Angels?

A. These are Hells Angels.

Q. Walking past him?

A. And there is some prospects and Hang-arounds that are moving forward. Mind you, this was diffused by National. This is Bobby V, the Vice President, and this is Pettigrew. Now this is “Jabbers”.

Q. When you say it was diffused, you were talking about forty minutes earlier when they were at the Oyster Bar?

A. Absolutely. When the National members went down and talked to them, everything was worked out. It was diffused. There was no problems.

Q. Do you know Pettigrew or Jethro?

A Yes.

Q. What is his rank?

A President of San Jose Hells Angels.

Q. Is that significant?

A. In Hells Angels world, absolutely. He’s one of probably top five or six on the council of Hells Angels.

Q. So he’s an important person in the Hells Angels organization?

A. One of the most important guys in the United States.

Q. All right. So do you know whether or not the Hells Angels motorcycle club is similar to the Vagos motorcycle club in terms of the hierarchy and the code of conduct in terms of protecting the President, respect?

A. One hundred percent.

Q. Very similar?

A. One hundred percent. The only difference between the Hells Angels and only difference between the Vagos is that each charter or chapter of the Hells Angels are all separately incorporated. Vagos are under one cooperate-type entity. The Hells Angels, it is a very, actually it is a smart move on their behalf. The reason why, it has to do with, you know, conspiracy factors and what is the other?

Q. Aiding and abetting, Rico?

A. Rico. Thank you so much. Rico and things of that nature. So if someone does something in this chapter here, that is incorporated, Hells Angels San Jose, San Francisco is not responsible. Oakland is not responsible for that particular situation. That is how it was formed by them. Sonny Barger forged that a while back.

Q. 23:25.

A. We see the gloves on Diego. What he does, you just saw him, he taps him saying, hey, you know, seems like he’s saying no problem. But this guy right here, “Jabbers”, has a big mouth. He’s always had a big mouth. This guy is going to grab on to him, because he probably sees him taunting again.

Q. Would taunting and provoking….

A. Yes.

Q. …be similar?

A. Absolutely.

Q. To pick a fight?

A. Yeah. He’s again in his face. Pettigrew as you saw was walking by.

He called him over.

Q. Would that be disrespectful?

A. One hundred percent.

Q. After what had happened earlier at the Oyster Bar to call him over?

A. Absolutely. As far as today is concerned with “Jabbers”, he’s no longer in the Vagos motorcycle club. He’s been kicked out, okay? And because of the problems he’s done which is going to create a lot of problems for him.

Q. I don’t want to digress. I am on a limited time. Let’s just, I want to bring your attention to one thing, though that would maybe be indicative of preparation for battle, and that was one thing that we already discussed was the fact Diego Garcia put some gloves on. Based upon your experience with the club, that would be preparation for battle?

A. One hundred percent.

Q. The other thing where we have Romeo.

A. Romeo, yeah he’s taking off.

Q. He has a drink?

A. He comes over, drops off his drink which means he’s getting prepared. This is the President of San Jose.

Q. Now he’s freeing up his hands?

A. There. He’s right there.

Q. Vagos there. Here is a Hells Angels that gets hit. Over here you can see Pettigrew and Bobby V getting attacked from the rear?

A. Absolutely.

Q. Would that be, based upon your view of this, a concerted effort?

A. One hundred percent.

Q. Of the Vagos? All right.

A. But it works on both ends because….

Q. Pettigrew threw the first punch?

A. It started from that point, things going to happen. Pettigrew could have said to him as well, hey, listen things has been diffused. I talked to your National members. Everything is okay. It didn’t happen.  This is the outcome. That is Leo Ramirez right there. He was shot. He was shot in the stomach. And he shot Diego in the leg and Gonzalez, Romeo, disappeared back here.

Q. Would it be fair to say in modern terms parlance a challenge to fight was issued and accepted in this particular case?

A. Absolutely. There is Pettigrew.

Q. Now where were you in relation when all this was going down? Where were you?

A. I was blown to some tables. When I came down the aisle, everything started to happen. We took a right turn. Right to the left, Pettigrew was right in the middle. He was in the fight. The Vagos were crushing him. Leo went inside. Gunshots went off. Leo went left, went out, got shot in the stomach. All hell broke loose, just bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, you know. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, numerous amount of shots were happening. I ran straight. I told everybody to hit the deck, everybody. There is people still on the tables, people on machines.

Finally, everybody…actually rammed into the tables, and there is a lady delivering some drinks. I ran into the table. She fell down. I hit my hand. I just wanted to get everybody down. When gunfire is going off, anyone can get hit. I am surprised that a citizen didn’t get shot in the event. Because anyone could have walked out of any corner anywhere. You could have walked out of the bathroom and got shot.

Q. There was one other individual that I wanted to ask you if you knew who he was.

A. There is Gonzales there.

Q. I guess I can ask in simple terms, do you know who shot Leonard Ramirez or Leo?

A. Yes, him.

Q. This fellow right here?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know what his name is?

A. God, I can’t believe it. I lost my train of thought on him. Cesar.

Q. Cesar Villagrana?

A. Yes. Sorry.

Q. That is all right. We can see this fight here. Are there other altercations going on?

A. Bobby V gets hit. He hit him in the head with the gun. Lake County Vagos. There is a fight down over here.

Q. He’s going to get hit again. You see him go down right there?

A. Yup. Because that happens. That is when he walks in, all the fight starts happening over here.

Q. There is the shooting?

A. Yeah, bam. But then there was so many shots going on right now.  There is shots going on through this whole melee that is happening here.

Q. Did you see any Vagos with guns?

A. Here?

Q. Well….

A. No.

Q. While you were there?

A. No, I didn’t see guns. They were all tucked away. But I am sure there were plenty of guns there.

Q. So then I was going to go to camera 5.

A. These are Vagos old ladies. One is “Jabbers” wife here.

Q. Would there be a reason they would be standing over here as opposed to standing over there with their husband?

A. The husbands told them to move over here, because something was going to take place.

Q. The altercation we just witnessed on camera 45 would be happening at the top of the screen?

A. Absolutely.

Q. They are kind of back here?

A. Because they were told to go there.

Q. Would that be indicative of a prior plan to engage in mutual combat?

A. Absolutely. Absolutely. They are watching the whole time. As you can see, although people here, some people here, any moment any of them could have been shot, been killed innocently.

Q. Here is 88.

A. That is me, and Pettigrew is in here now with the fight. Then the bullets. You will see me run through here. Bullets go off.

Q. Pettigrew in camera 5 at 23:26:20. There is a number of Vagos he’s confronting?

A. Yes. Leo comes in here, takes a left. He would be right over here.

Takes a right. He is throwing something at the guy with the gun. I don’t know, maybe it is his karate background, who knows. But at that time, he gets shot, but then the shooting is pretty repetitive. It happened, you hear the first round of shooting go off, one, two seconds; next sound of shooting go off, one, two seconds; next round of shooting goes off. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. And to me it sounded like there were thirty rounds go off. It is not out of the question for the members, after they shoot their guns or whatever, to pick up the bullets as the evidence and take it with them. Everybody is hitting the ground.

Q. That looks like another Hells Angels getting chased by some Vagos there.

A. Yeah. He ran through here. I think that is Lunch Box right there.

Q. All right. Then camera 3. So this would be just to the left of Trader Dicks looking at the bathrooms?

A. Yeah. That is the bathroom. That is the men’s. Women’s over there.

Q. We need to kind of move ahead a little.

A. There I am right there.

Q. Okay. So that you are heading towards the altercation?

A. Absolutely. You see the punch. You see, I mean you see the punch right there, bam when he hit “Jabbers” in the face, then all the melee took place.

Q. Ducking and running, is that consistent with the beginning of people running for cover?

A. Absolutely. You know, it is a Friday night. There is a lot of people at the casino. Everybody is just minding their business playing, you know, their game, playing their poker, playing their game. And this is like a pretty heavy thing to happen.

Q. Here we see an H.A.?

A. Yeah.

Q. He gets attacked by more Vagos down here?

A. Yes, he does.

Q. That is a group of Vagos attacking the Hells Angels?

A. Absolutely. Actually, some women in the women’s bathroom.

Q. So right there is that where you see Pettigrew come down?

A. Yes.

Q. That is where Pettigrew….

A. Gets shot.

Q. That is where he gets shot, right there?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. Okay.

A. He gets shot four times in the back.

Q. So then here is camera 7, and that surveillance camera captures the front of Rosie’s Cafe which, again, is just left of the bathroom. I guess that would be south of the bathroom. I am going to go ahead.

A. There I am right there. I just came out of the bathroom with Crusher.

Q. Ramirez was with you?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. He went down where the fight was. That is where he got shot?

A. Absolutely.

Q. Diego Garcia putting on the gloves. He gets shot?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. Then Pettigrew gets shot?

A. And he dies.

Q. So that series of events I just relayed, is that consistent with the video and your recollection of the events of that evening?

A. Yes.

Q. Basically, was that a result of the challenge to fight issued by “Jabbers” to Pettigrew?

A. Absolutely. One hundred percent.

Q. All right. Thank you.

MR. HALL: I have no further questions.

THE FOREMAN: Do we have any questions for the witness?

A GRAND JUROR: I have a question.

THE WITNESS: Yes.

A GRAND JUROR: Do you know who actually fired the shots at Mr.

Pettigrew and hit him with the bullets?

THE WITNESS: Yeah, Gonzales.

A GRAND JUROR: I don’t know if you can answer this. Is he just following the code at that point, Gonzales, do you think?

THE WITNESS: When a situation like this happens, it is Vagos Forever, Forever Vagos. Whatever happens at that time, the way the Vagos organization feels, when you get into situations is to protect. And “Jabbers”, he is a Vice President. That is how it started. So the thing was the guy who was the shooter and Diego, they are related.  They are family, okay? So the chapter that was started, when you saw the cut, the jacket with the Vagos Nicaragua and San Jose are all cousins. Gonzalez and Diego are cousins. They are the ones who helped start that whole charter down there. And they are building the chapter very rapidly down there right now. So to your answer, it is a thing that happens, and it is a protective mode to go in because of the guns and the shooting of the other Vagos individuals that got shot first by the Hells Angels automatically puts them into the mode to shoot one of them.

BY MR. HALL:

Q. I was going to ask a question. You mentioned San Jose and the fact the Vagos are expanding rapidly in the San Jose area, Nicaragua area.

The Vagos were expanding in the San Jose area?

A. They were.

Q. Had that caused some problems with the Hells Angels?

A. Yes. Hells Angels didn’t want them there. The Hlls Angels in northern California are very big. The Hells Angels felt the Vagos were coming into their territory. It is like you have a home. You have an acre of land. That is your land. They have been there for some years.

They claim that territory. Like taking a house and putting it on the corner of your lot. That is the way they feel about it in laymen’s terms. This is our house. Just don’t move into our territory. It is going to create problems. Well, it has been creating problems forever.

A lot of people…this is not the first incident that this has happened.

This has been building up, building up. Big Mike, Lake County got beat merciless in a casino. But he was the one who was provoking the Hells Angels over there telling them they were scum bags, they are pigs, all these things. They came and beat his ass. There was another Vagos with him named Chris from Lake County who was a Secretary. They didn’t touch him because he wasn’t a big mouth. So with all that said, then you have the incident in Bakersfield. I don’t know if you know about the incident in Bakersfield. An 18 year old young man was stabbed right through his body by Diego who was a Hells Angels.

Q. The victim was a Vagos?

A. Victim was a Vagos. His father brought him in. He was an 18 year old kid. Now that was also provoked by the Vagos motorcycle club. He said go up in, a 18 year old young man who was getting patched. The Bylaws, an 18 year old is not suppose to come into this club. For some reason his father, being in the position he was, their rules were changed a little bit. But the kid was killed, and he was stabbed twice in the back. So the man went on trial, but it got self-defense on the Hells Angels. They walked away. But Vagos provoked it. They provoked that one, too. Lied about it at first. It was provoked. So then the point being, there has been some ongoing animosity and problems between the Vagos and Hell Angels. Arizona. This is all stuff that just happened within the last, you know, year and a half, two years. Arizona there was a pack going to a party. Hells Angels came out, six guys shooting on the Vagos on the bikes, shooting on them. They weren’t very good shots, I hate to say. When the Vagos came up on them, they shot three of their guys. You know, one was critical. This is a situation that is ongoing. And because of this particular event and, you know, Pettigrew.

Q. We can probably leave it there I am sure as far as this case goes.

A. Okay. Yes?

A. GRAND JUROR: How long is someone in the higher hierarchy? If you are a Vice President, is it a year term, four years, until they vote you out?

THE WITNESS: You can stay there. You are pretty much there as long as you want to be. There is a vote that happens, but most of the time in the vote, people don’t like to be in an officer position because an officer position is the one that gets hit the most, you know, from all sanctions, whether it be National or law enforcement. They go after a lot of the hierarchy, you know, the Presidents, Vice Presidents, Secretaries, all that. So in order to become, you know, an officer in a club, you have got to really think hard in order to do that. But, yes, he could be there for a very long time. But if the time period comes, he could became a Nomad and do what he wants to do.

THE FOREMAN: Do we have any other questions? Sir, the proceedings before the Grand Jury are secret. You may not disclose evidence presented to the Grand Jury, any event occurring or statement made in the presence of the Grand Jury, any information obtained by the Grand Jury or the result of the investigation being made by the Grand Jury.  However, you may disclose the above information to the District Attorney for use in the performance of his duties. You may also disclose your knowledge concerning the proceedings when directed by a court in connection with judicial proceeding or when otherwise permitted by the court to your own attorney. The obligation of secrecy applies until the Court allows the matter to become public record. A gross misdemeanor and contempt of court may be pursued if your obligation of secrecy is not followed. Do you understand?

THE WITNESS: I understand.

THE FOREMAN: Thank you.

THE WITNESS: Thank you.

(Witness excused.)

Photos courtesy of Scott Sonner/AP

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In 2011 it was Prineville’s first experience in hosting the Run To The Cascades motorcycle rally.  According to Aaron Myhra/Fonzie Productions Inc. (Event Promoter), who acquired the rights to the event, it was a success and positive for the community.  The rally was resurrected after being absent for 10 years.

However, there were a few reports about an overbearing amount of law enforcement, and complaints of live music being cancelled.  Go HERE for more information.

Now let’s jump ahead to last weekend.  The Run To The Cascades was in Redmond, OR at the Deschutes County Fairground and  as I previously posted HERE the event was shut down by the police following a confrontation between biker groups (Mongols and HAMC).

Mr. Myhra has since provided an explanation of the events leading up to the closure:

It is with a heavy heart that we are making this public statement today. Our greatest priority when putting on Run To The Cascades (RTTC) is always the safety & enjoyment of the public. This is why we moved RTTC to the Deschutes County fairgrounds, made gate admission more affordable, and brought in amazing vendors & entertainment. This event is a 9/11 memorial/freedom celebration. This event is an opportunity for us to all gather in our community, young and old, to honor the lives lost on 9/11. RTTC is an event created to honor the men & women that have, and those who currently, serve our country—including their families at home—in order that we may gather freely, without fear of condemnation or discrimination.

The irony is, we did gather for this purpose, and Saturday morning following the 9/11 memorial parade through downtown Redmond, we met back at the fairgrounds for a freedom celebration. After the parade, there was a Color Guard Presentation of our National and State flags by respected Native American veterans from Warm Springs. A greeting from Redmond mayor George Endicott, a Vietnam veteran, followed the Flag Ceremony. Mayor Endicott welcomed us all to the city, and even went on to say that he had asked his PD to give some tolerance and understanding.

Following Mayor Endicott’s welcoming speech, local pastor, Preacher Bob, gave an inspiring talk about the freedom that millions have sacrificed their lives to defend, while reminding us to be aware and diligent of the many freedoms we are loosing daily as we go about our busy lives. He read the following words from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

We, the staff & volunteers of The Run to the Cascades Motorcycle Rally, are appalled at the abrupt closing of our event because of a “potential” threat of violence. Contrary to reports, there were NO conversations by law enforcement officials, or even an attempt made by law enforcement to have conversations with either party, who were allegedly involved in a 30 minute “verbal tussle” that handled itself, with both parties involved exiting the fairgrounds without incident.

Law enforcement abruptly shut down the event HOURS AFTER both parties had peacefully exited the event, telling ALL participants, via the PA system, to exit the fairgrounds IMMEDIATELY. Law enforcement stood by and watched as thousands of people driving trucks, motor homes, cars, and motorcycles tried to exit out of the one gate law enforcement had left unlocked. This occurred as thousands of confused people were trying to make their way into the fairgrounds for the evening showing of the Knights of Mayhem and the Foghat concert. Had it not been for the brave and quick response of our staff & volunteers, who had very limited information as to why we were shutting down—literally stepping in front of moving vehicles and directing the chaos—people could have been seriously injured or worse.

Vendors, campers, and attendees with no plan of leaving until later in the evening, or at the event’s conclusion Sunday morning—following the bike blessing and church services—were forced out of the fairgrounds, some of whom had been legally drinking. This action, on the part of law enforcement, put event-goers & many other innocent people in our community into harm’s way. We have since received reports that several DUI’s were issued in Deschutes County following the mandatory exit.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department and the Redmond PD shut down our event in its final hours with several SWAT teams present; reminiscent of Waco, Texas, and many other instances of what occurs when there are abuses of state power over the public. The ensuing mayhem, anger, & confusion caused by the unnecessary event cancelation, put more lives in danger than any “verbal tussle.” Thousands of disappointed attendees, vendors, sponsors, media partners, & event organizers are now left with a very unsettling and unsatisfying experience. We had professional security services on the grounds; they, in conjunction with local law enforcement, could have come up with a dozen different ways to handle a “perceived threat,” and allowed the event to continue to its conclusion.

We ask you, the public, for some patience as we prepare to responsibly, and legally, respond to this act of tyranny, while assessing the damage it has caused everyone involved. There have been many questions of refunds; as more information becomes available, it will be posted on our website http://www.runtothecascades.com . Refunds should also be sought from those responsible for illegally shutting down the event; law enforcement, the fair board, and county commissioners.

We would also like to clear up a couple points of misconception: We worked closely with fairground director Dan Despotopulos in pre planning and during our event. Dan was charged with informing us that law enforcement was making arrangements to close our event and it is our impression that he did not agree with plans pay grades above his had made. Secondly as soon as RTTC was made aware that the police were even thinking about closing the event—approximately 2 HOURS before it actually happened—we ceased charging at all gates! We are members of this community and have no interest in charging our neighbors and out-of-town guests for something the police might, and did, shut down without cause.

Thank you for your patience, support, and cooperation as we move forward.

Aaron Myhra

UPDATE: September 17, 2012 — I was in Central Oregon this past weekend.  I grabbed a coffee and happen to read a report in the TSWeekly where the Redmond police are urging fairgrounds officials to never host another biker rally. “This event is something I will strongly advocate to never be held here again,” Redmond Police Capt. Brian McNaughton told reporters.

Photo courtesy of Run To The Cascades web site.

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Here’s the thing… “If you look around the room, and you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.”  

It’s not my quote, but some interesting words of wisdom by Lorne Michaels of SNL fame which might apply to this past weekend in central Oregon.

At the 2nd annual Run To The Cascades in Redmond, where hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts gathered to celebrate a remembrance of September 11th and to salute the men and women of our military along with the fire and police departments were met with a clash between the Mongols and Hells Angels motorcycle clubs.  According to witness reports, around 5 p.m. Saturday, a large Mongols group approached the Hells Angels members already at the event – the HAMC had a vendor booth there – and “demanded the Hells Angels group leave immediately.”  It was reported that weapons were brandished.  Once word of the confrontation went out to law enforcement it prompted police and sheriff’s deputies to enter the fairgrounds and stand by while the Hells Angels group packed up and left.

Other witnesses reported that the Hells Angels group intended to return with more people to settle the dispute, and at that point, sheriff’s deputies and police contacted fairgrounds Director Dan Despotpulos “and strongly recommended the event be closed in order to protect public safety.”  The fair director agreed and they immediately began closing the event.

I wasn’t at the rally, but can imagine the disappointment!  Are these “life-threatening” events occurring more often at rallies?  I don’t know, but the result is the same on future events.   Similar to the Laughlin River Run melee a few years ago or most recently at last year’s Street Vibrations shooting in Reno/Sparks between the HAMC and Vagos.

The sudden closure of the Run To The Cascades rally meant the closing-night concert by the classic rock group Foghat was cancelled. It’s unclear if event organizers will be on the hook for any refunds.  There were also reports that some people who had camped out at the campground were reluctant to leave, but were then threatened by law enforcement that if anyone stayed they would receive trespassing citations.  Nice indictment of the innocent.

Did law enforcement over react?  Where was the Oregon law enforcement intelligence for the event?  Did the motorcycle club “offense of proximity” only serve to reinforce the symbolic weight the emblems carry for biker clubs?  Did the motorcycle clubs brazen intimidation threat accomplish exactly what was intended?  Did this action sear a pitiful brand on the character of thousands of innocent, respectable, law-abiding men and women in Oregon who are the enthusiast representatives of an admirable sport?  Has Oregon just exited a transformative club period and now set to experience a new “threat on wheels”?

Motorcycle club business is none of my business, but when the public is exposed to these individuals are we to just ignore the incident and continue on with adding mustard to our bratwursts and t-shirt buying as if it didn’t happen?

UPDATE: September 17, 2012 — I was in Central Oregon this past weekend.  I grabbed a coffee and happen to read a report in the TSWeekly where the Redmond police are urging fairgrounds officials to never host another biker rally. “This event is something I will strongly advocate to never be held here again,” Redmond Police Capt. Brian McNaughton told reporters.

Photo taken by author at AHDRA drags in Woodburn, OR.  Poster photo courtesy of Run To The Cascades web site.

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Happy New Years!

Now that the champagne toasts are made and the ball dropped, it’s time to start thinking ahead:  What’s your riding resolution for this year?  Will you ride your motorcycle more often to work?  Take that epic journey or stay close to home?  Will you buy a new ride or enhance the existing one?

Before going forward let’s take a quick look back.

Over the years I’ve posted the occasional summary of the more popular and least liked stories from the past 12 months.  It’s not my “helper-monkey”, but the good folks at WordPress.com state their rankings algorithm is based on how many people read a particular article.  The average is the sum of views divided by the number of days and its gets even more complex if you are the sort of person who likes to verify computations.  I don’t.

The final tallies can be a little mystifying, to be honest.

Are readers giving a “thumbs-up” because they liked the content of the article or just the topic itself?  I don’t find these summaries a really useful exercise because some of the better written articles (IMHO) will sometimes have the fewest views.  It’s the old adage that writing about or reposting the nip slips, exposed undies and ever-presence dysfunction from the celebrity train wrecks for the whole world to see will bring a whole lot more views if that’s your goal.  But, if nothing else, the summary does provide a snapshot of what struck in my readers’ collective fancy during the past year.

In 2011, I posted 88 new articles (about 7 per month).  That brought the total archive on this blog up to just over 800 posts.  I uploaded 165 pictures (or about 3 per week).  The busiest day was September 25th (during the Vagos and HAMC shooting in Reno) with 1,120 views on an article I posted in 2008 (HERE).  Clearly the social behavior and the attraction of the events in Reno was a big draw, but I’m mystified why the more current article (HERE) had fewer views?  Maybe it’s a SEO thing.  I also want to provide a shout-out to the large number of UK viewers who consistently visit the blog.

Here are the 2011 most viewed highlights:

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Flying Colors in Oregon
OCC Family Feud Ends
Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Are New Media Darlings
Vagos MC Meeting In Grants Pass
Harley SAMCRO Limited Edition Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson’s SwitchBack
Vintage Motorcycles – Honda CB750
Harley Engine History
“Green Nation” Busts On Saint Patrick’s Day
No Angel
The Day Laughlin River Run Changed
Men Of Mayhem
A “Legend Bell” Full of Mystery
Harley Snubbed In Benjamin Button Movie
Operation Black Rain Nets Oregon Mongols

I enjoyed this past year—and I hope you have, too.  If I’ve done my “job” right as editor of this blog, then your visits will have helped make your motorcycle hobby a bit more meaningful.  Hopefully you’ve become closer to your motorcycle and grown your relationship with friends that you’ve met on the road.

Happy 2012!

Photo’s courtesy of WordPress.com and Northwest Harley Blog.

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Harrah's - Laughlin, Nevada

It was like any typical early morning in the Nevada desert with gamblers enjoying the casino and all its entertainment glory.

Then gunshots broke out and a gang melee ensued. Bystanders started running, dodging around and falling to the floor, fearing for their life – cameras caught the activity as some pulled weapons to shoot, others getting shot, or stabbed and in some instances bystanders watched as wrenches were used to beat down individuals.  It was a terrifying ordeal as many feared for their life.

I’m talking about the Saturday, April 27, 2002, Laughlin River Run brawl with guns, knives and wrenches which left three motorcycle club members dead — two Hells Angels and one Mongol — and injured at least 12 others at Harrah’s Laughlin. I first blogged about this HERE with updates HERE and HERE.

The skirmish between Hells Angels and the competing Mongol biker club fuse was lit when Metro broke up a fight between the Hells Angels and Mongols at a T-shirt stand earlier in the day.  Metro police and club leaders initiated a meeting to defuse tensions between the groups, but the members walked out of the meeting. Three hours later members of the Mongols HAMC stormed Harrah’s, where the Hells Angels Mongols were staying, and the casino floor erupted.

More than 8-years later with five federal lawsuits and at least one California state lawsuit against Harrah’s Laughlin who argued (and won) in legal motions that the casino wasn’t liable for the criminal acts of the bikers… for the first time this week were found liable in the incident.  In addition, rather than wait for a jury to determine damages Harrah’s quickly reach a settlement and one of the terms of the negotiated settlement is that the amount would be kept confidential.

The seven clients seeking damages from Harrah’s Laughlin for injuries suffered during the motorcycle club battle are: Michael Bower, Robert Garcia, Noi Lewis, Kathy Fuller, Steven Fuller, Andrea Daniels and Dean Daniels.

I’m speculating here, but it’s a pretty safe bet that fear of motorcycle clubs will pay well for these seven individuals.

What about the motorcycle club members and their legal disposition, you ask?  You may recall that forty-two members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) were indicted on federal racketeering and firearms charges.  Charges against 36 Hells Angels were dismissed in 2006.  The Las Vegas Review Journal reported Frederick Donahue (34) was a fugitive for five years before surrendering in Las Vegas in July 2008.  He was the seventh Hells Angels member sentenced in the fatal Harrah’s casino shootout and is serving 30 months in federal prison.  Jorrg Maykopf of Germany remains the only fugitive in this case.

I can remember back in 2001 staying at the Pink Flamingo (now Aquarius) during the Laughlin River Run watching HAMC prospects do bagger wheelie’s in the valet parking area.  Not these days.  The Laughlin River Run has forever changed…

Photo courtesy of Harrah’s Laughlin

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Can embarrassment and personal demons be squelched with money?

It would seem so and that $169,800 is all that’s needed!

I’m referring to the Iron Pigs MC member and Seattle police detective Ronald Smith.

It probably comes as no surprise that Smith, who as you may recall shot a member of the Hells Angels MC in Sturgis a couple years ago has filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department.  The suit alleges the department disparaged him and negligently provided false information that led to his indictment on a perjury charge.

Disregard that all charges were dropped and why let any of the facts get in the way when Mr. Smith sees dollar signs.  The only thing missing in this little drama is an attorney to throw in the proverbial race card and get the ACLU marching.

I’ve blogged about this incident HERE, HERE and HERE as well as provided a number of updates.  A brief recap is during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Smith, who was in Sturgis with members of the Iron Pigs, a motorcycle club composed of LEO’s and firefighters shot and wounded a Hells Angels MC member, Joseph Patrick McGuire, in self-defense during a fight in the Loud American Roadhouse on Aug. 9, 2008. Smith was charged in Meade County, S.D., Circuit Court with the felonies of aggravated assault and perjury. He also was charged with a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

Now comes the pain and suffering.  Mr. Smith claims he was “guilty until proven innocent,” shunned and neglected.  Huh?  The lawsuit contends his reputation was harmed by the criminal charges and that shortly after the incident, the Seattle Police Chief at the time, Gil Kerlikowske said during a public-relations event that Smith was an “embarrassment” to the department and would “not be working for him much longer.”

That working for him part was absolutely correct!   Shortly after Mr. Kerlikowske became the “drug czar” or the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy for Obama.  He is responsible for advising the president on drug control programs, and for coordinating drug policies among all federal agencies.

My point?  While the various bloggers have raged back and forth between supporters of the police to distrust of the police and the justice system…could someone, even the Seattle Police Chief please just apologize to Mr. Smith before he continues to take all of your hard earned tax dollars.

Photo courtesy Flickr and Iron Pigs MC.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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