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Posts Tagged ‘Violence’

Twin Peaks Restaurant

Nearly two years after a deadly and horrific shooting it remains clouded with mystery, is intriguing and familiar, all at the same time.

There are unexpected admirers, hundreds of legal proceedings and thousands of investigative hours completed to date.  There is an on-going “outlaw motorcycle gang” task force and there was an interesting book written by Donald Charles Davis aka. “The Aging Rebel” about Texas law enforcement, the clubs, the personalities and the event.

Photo sampling of Twin Peaks shooting

Of course, I’m talking about the Twin Peaks Massacre — the deadliest biker violence in U.S. history that took place on May 17, 2015.

Make no mistake, some motorcycle clubs never shy away from flaunting their brutal pedigree, and in Waco, TX the shootout left 9 dead (four by police) and 18 wounded in or near the popular Central Texas restaurant.  Reportedly a dispute broke out, escalated to include knifes and firearms and then spilled into a shooting rampage in the restaurant parking lot.  Remarkably, law enforcement was aware of the large “gathering,” along with the potential for trouble and were pre-positioned in a show of force to address or stamp down any violence.

Shooting aftermath…

If only the parking lot could talk…

Once the deadly shooting brawl subsided, law enforcement arrested 177 persons (173 male and 4 females) from a variety of motorcycle clubs as well as everyday motorcycle enthusiasts/patrons who were in attendance.  Some may have rode in for fine dining, but they didn’t ride out.  Instead they were arrested on organized crime charges.

Yeah it’s Texas, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives retained and have in possession more than 475 weapons from the scene, including at least 151 firearms.

Sure, it can be a messy world, but this was no motorcycle episode of Sons of Anarchy debating how the biker life is too short for would-haves and the need to follow your own compass.  This was a disgustingly brutal and super bloody mass killing on full display during a public motorcycle “gathering.”  Is there any doubt why the press and media continue to push a negative biker narrative?

Sadly, the nine dead were members of the Bandidos and Cossacks motorcycle clubs.

Within a few hours accusations that the shootings were an aggressive overreaction by law enforcement began.  Then within days the conspiriacy rumors surfaced that it was a Federal agency tactic, motivated to bring the 1% clubs down.  And if that didn’t spark enough law enforcement skeptisim, many of the mass arrests were misclassified and have created severe consequences to innocent people not to mention the potential for numerous civil rights violations.

Jump forward nearly 2-years after the gathering and shooting spree or massacre, there remains 154 persons, currently under indictment. Nobody has been cleared.  38 people, including women, are still “under investigation.”  One indictee and one potential indictee has died during this lengthy delay to find justice.

There’s been a number of national and international publications “explaining” the event.  From the beginning, authorities in Texas have worked to control the narrative of what happened at Twin Peaks.  Almost 200 people potentially face long prison terms for conspiring to act criminally although prosecutors have refused to state what each of those defendants actually did other than what looks like they were trying to survive a mass shooting event.

Over the years motorcycle enthusiasts have become familiar with government entities nibbling away at their freedoms and this has a Déjà vu feeling.

I wasn’t there, but can imagine this event being a “change your life” moment.  I do recall instances of being in a public setting with riding buddies, other motorcycle enthusiasts along with various motorcycle club members enjoying the rally experience.  Only to witness a spark of personality that ignites a “bring it on bigger” a‘tude and the flaunting of an aggressive remedy putting everyone at risk.

I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night and being attentive to your surroundings can be just as important to protecting yourself as putting on a helmet.  I like riding motorcycles and the overall rally/group experience, but I also like my life away from it.

But I’ve digressed.

I’ve been monitoring the bits of information about this shootout as well as the legal proceedings and am reminded of that carney (Anderson) in the Twin Peaks TV series.  Every summer the Carnivàle came to town.  The strange little fellow spoke in an unusual manner.  He would speak backwards and used phonetically reversed speaking as a “secret language.”

It’s as if there is some type of “secret language” being used in Waco.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but according to Katherine K. Young who wrote in her book“every real conspiracy has had at least four characteristic features: groups, not isolated individuals; illegal or sinister aims, not ones that would benefit society as a whole; orchestrated acts, not a series of spontaneous and haphazard ones; and secret planning, not public discussion” — all of this seems to imply that nothing with the Twin Peaks Massacre happened by accident, nothing is as it seems, and everything is connected.

Photos courtesy of Waco Tribune-Herald (Jerry Larson) and Google Image Search

Some references in developing this post:

Motorcycle Profiling Project

One Percenter Bikers

Daily Mail

GQ Article

Texas Monthly

Aging Rebel

Waco Tribune-Herald

 

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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"Blood Rocks"

Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are being sent down mines to die so that motorcyclists in Europe and America can ride the freedom of the open road…

Attention getting statement?  Sure.  Does it also carry an overall air of guilt towards Harley-Davidson producing motorcycles with “conflict minerals” and implicate the consumers who are buying them?  Yes.

The phrase conflict minerals (often referred to as “blood rocks”) has quickly become a familiar term as concerned consumers and organizations begin to raise public awareness of the role the mineral trade plays in fuelling the violence raging in the DRC.

I’m talking in particular about tintungsten and tantalum – collectively referred to as the “3Ts” – and speculation on the motorcycle manufacturing supply chain at Harley-Davidson.

The Congo has been home to countless atrocities that afflict the civilian population; atrocities committed by various competing armed groups vying for profits from its rich supply of minerals know as the “3-Ts”.   Some five million people have been killed in the central African state since the start of a 1998-2003 war as the government and U.N. forces struggle to uproot rebel groups who are active in the minerals-rich east, particularly the North and South Kivu areas, which share a porous border with Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.

Do I believe there is some clandestine attempt on the part of the H-D motor company to bring suffering to the people of the Congo?  No.  I’m sure that H-D management takes very seriously any allegation that metals in their supply chain may be fueling human rights atrocities.  In fact, you can read Harley-Davidson’s corporate governance which highlights environmental responsibilities, however, doesn’t directly address the monitoring of conflict minerals in their supplier chain.  I wanted to highlight the issue as the motorcycle industry is not immune.

First, let’s get a brief background on the minerals:

  1. Tantalum – is a rare, non-radioactive metal and in nature, tantalum (Ta) is almost always found with niobium (also known as columbium) in oxide form. The principal source for tantalum is the mineral columbite-tantalite.  60% of its commercial use is in the field of consumer electronics (cellular phones, DVD players, computers, gaming platforms, specialty electronics (radio), etc.) where it is used for its capacity to store and release electrical charges.
  2. Niobium – is added to steel and stainless steel to create high strength low alloy steel. It doubles the strength and toughness of steel due to grain refining while reducing weight. Therefore ferro-niobium alloy is used in oil and gas pipelines, chemical processing equipment, motorcycle frames, car and truck bodies, architectural steel, tool steels, ships’ hull, railroad tracks, nuclear reactors (helping keep reactors safe) or cutting tools in machining operation are fabricated from niobium carbide (to avoid high temperature deformation).
  3. Tin – is an important commodity and is used in hundreds of industrial processes and products.  An alloy of tin and niobium is used to make superconductive wire. Tin is also used as plating to avoid corrosion of various metals and can be found in items such as food packaging, culinary equipment, electronics, tin chemicals, plumbing solders, engineering alloys, pewter and bronze in music and arts, dental amalgams, anti-corrosion and engineering coatings, wine capsules and fire retardants.
  4. Tungsten – has the highest melting point of all metallic elements and because it is extremely stable at high temperatures, it is used in parts of spacecraft and missiles, high-speed cutting tools or rocket engine nozzles. Combined with carbon in tungsten carbide (WC), it becomes a very hard compound, used for tips of drill bits, high-speed cutting tools or mining machinery.

In the DRC there are thousands of independent artisanal miners working to make a subsistence living.  Clearly achieving responsible sourcing of minerals in the DRC is a complex multi-stakeholder process that must be viewed from a logistical, political and financial standpoint. All the various groups have unique and sometimes competing objectives and priorities, and all are claiming to put the best interests of the victims at the forefront of their initiatives.

I’m of the view that talk is cheap and last year President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  It wasn’t just financial reform he signed into law, but in Section 1502, the Conflict Minerals section of the act,  it contains a stipulation that requires public companies to disclose the use of such conflict materials in independent audits filed with their annual financial reports.

Enforcement will be through embarrassment.   If a company uses conflict minerals “necessary to the functionality or production of their products,” the company must disclosed the information. Companies must also detail their due diligence on the source and the chain of custody of the minerals.  If a manufacturer can demonstrate that the metal it uses is not from the DRC, it may state that its metal is “DRC conflict free.”   But if a company cannot determine the source of its mineral after a “reasonable country of origin inquiry” or if the company determines that its metal did originate in the DRC, it must make those disclosures.

Not knowing the source of metal could be problematic for Harley-Davidson, particularly for metal, where such a large percentage is derived from scrap. We don’t fully know the market consequences or the effect on production and metal segregation or on international competitiveness as a result of this law.  It’s possible the law will distort the market and increase costs.

Yet conflict minerals are inevitably getting into the H-D motorcycle manufacturing supply chain and that I, along with you, purchased a motorcycle which contains conflict minerals.  Once we get past the “who’s at fault” mentality we can focus on ideas that will make a difference.  I for one would like to know that my “wind in the face” motorcycle appetite didn’t help fuel human rights atrocities and believe that companies that don’t use conflict materials and can label their products “conflict-free” will discover just how lucrative being conflict-free can be.

Photo courtesy of Engadget.

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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Book of Eli

If the first installment of Son’s of Anarchy” (SOA), Kurt Sutter’s unique take on a motorcycle gangs modern life, served as a refreshing kick during a woeful aftermath of the financial crisis, then the 2nd installment served as a protest on assault weapon prices and the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots.

Even when viewed as mindless diversion, it’s difficult to imagine how the 3rd installment will provide bolder and grittier action for the discordant “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” crowd.

Television sequels find it difficult to live up to the glory of the previous season, especially when the original was a hit.  And according to Kurt Sutter, season 3 will deal with SOA roots and “a world that is outside their own.”  Speaking of another world, I came up with some ideas for Sutter’s “anarchists.” In a word Kurt – APOCALYPSE!

Is there anything better than an apocalypse? No food, marauding motorcycle gangs out to kill you, survival skills, a horrible lack of soap – none of its good.  Season 3 could be all about how SAMCRO survives in an apocalyptic world?  The below film examples might provide Mr. Sutter story ideas for SOA season 3:

  • Introduce a dangerous loner – (The Book of Eli, 2010) – SOA could introduce a “Hatchet” Harry character like Denzel Washington who plays Eli, a dangerous loner who protects the only book that could save humankind or the SOA club. For some reason, there are a lot of people out to stop him, so Eli has to depend some handy kung-fu skills with a mini-sword to survive.  SOA would need martial-arts training to combat the loner and stay alive in a post-apocalyptic world.
  • Don’t trust the military (28 Days Later, 2003) – In a country overrun by zombies, it’s completely understandable that SOA would run to “church” – the first safe haven within hundreds of miles. But when that fortress is overrun by dozens of all- male military officers who haven’t seen women in weeks, their intentions toward female companions of the club are probably less than noble.
  • Conserve water (Tank Girl, 1995) – The year 2033 is basically a paradise for quirky middle-schoolers; But, drinking water is, well, harder to track down than Tiger Woods. So, don’t be surprised if the world’s most powerful corporation tries to kill everyone the club knows so they can control the water wells.
  • Kidnap an orphan (Waterworld, 1995) – This post-apocalyptic future is literally a water world, so change the location of the club and the survival basics are self-evident. Some kind of flotation device will be needed. Motorcycles are exchanged for Jet-skis. And if you can manage to collect enough old milk jugs, tie them together and form the floating Sons of Anarchic city state on the open water.  Of course they would rely on filtered pee for drinking water in the endless search for an orphan with a map to the Promised Land tattooed on her back.
  • Have a good, old-fashioned book-burning at the library (The Day After Tomorrow, 2004) – Sure, the effects of global warming occur over many years. But on FX what if global warming was impatient and decided to screw over SOA in just one week? Well, for one, Charming, California would get wicked cold – so cold that arctic wolves would roam the streets for food. Fortunately, the solution can be found at the local club house: members barricade inside.  Eat chips from the vending machine and start burning every book in sight. Who needs knowledge when the temperature is plummeting?
  • Invent time travel (12 Monkeys, 1995) – Wouldn’t it be swell if SOA could go back in time and do things differently for the good of the club? You know, so that Charming wouldn’t have been plagued by the white supremacy “virus” that forced the SAMCRO survivors to form a new society, deep under the Earth’s crust? Good thing someone invented time travel! That way, SOA can send club members back in time to try and collect information about the “virus” so that the future-people can make a cure. Time machines don’t do much about, say, the fact that the club is pretty well damned to live in the dark with a bunch of creepy scientists for company, but whatever.
  • Run! Run for your life! (Children of Men, 2006)- When every woman in Charming stops getting pregnant, civilization is bound to get a little nutty. So, imagine how SOA would react if they were in charge of protecting the sole pregnant woman on the entire planet. A friendly baby shower is out of the question and it’s best to lace up your boots and do plenty of cardio, because SAMCRO has a lot of terrorists and religious zealots to outrun.
  • Outwit, outplay, outlast (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, 1981) – You might think this IS the slogan for SOA. But when SAMCRO is trapped in the only remaining oil refinery and surrounded by a murderous gang of cagers that want your gasoline, the motto “outwit, outplay, outlast” may be what saves the club. First, try a decoy: While the bad dudes think the gas is in one place, take the real stuff somewhere else. Then get a loner with impressive kung-fu and driving skills to take out every last one of the psychopaths, while the club rides off into the unknown. You may not know where you’re going, but at least you’re going somewhere in the wind!
  • Be a good dad (The Road, 2009) – The apocalypse is no excuse to abandon parenting skills. In fact, this is the perfect opportunity to teach the outlaw children about peer pressure: Just because every other human on Earth has turned to murder and cannibalism to survive is no reason to adopt those habits for the club children, right? The SAMCRO offspring will not only learn valuable survival skills, but their self-esteem will be through the roof.

There you have it.  A few potential plot ideas for season 3.  I left off the possible extended two-hour episode of club hostages incorporating the Stockholm Syndrome into the tyrannical ways of the club.

Thank me later Kurt.

Photo courtesy of Comic Con and Tommy Lee Edwards.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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The business of blogs is big business.

Then there are moments which reaffirm that blogs are not about selling, but for CONNECTING.  It’s about putting it all out there unfiltered, getting into disagreements, not afraid to look like a tool.  It’s the honesty that grabs you.

Kurt Sutter is about dishing up honesty and plays the new media game where the rules are being made up as we go.   People follow him because he is so provocative, so interesting that they want to tune in.  You may know him as the writer/producer of the FX television series called Sons of Anarchy.  He is an Academy Award-winning writer, actor and is well known for his work on The Shield.

He recently did an interview HERE about blogging and provided some insight on the TV show.  He also provides a shout-out about this blog as one of his favorite motorcycle blogs.  Huh?  Sure, I’ve posted on the series, but I’ve certainly not been slobbering all over myself about the show.  In fact, I’ve been somewhat critical due to a number of episodes that I feel go beyond developing characters (Gemma’s rape; Tig bites the nose off a guys face) for the purpose of “goosing up” ratings with violence.   So where does that leave us?  Did Mr. Sutter “work” me?  I’ve been worked before.  I recognize it when I see it.  I’m not sure this time as Kurt is not some backwoods uneducated nit-wit who is clueless about the new media business.

Blind Faith once sang, it’s time to come down off your throne.  Mr. Sutter does that and for a split-second I felt like the blog mattered.  That’s the power of blogs.  You are momentarily CONNECTED.

Sutter is on Facebook, Twitter and blogs at sutterink.

Photo courtesy of FX and SOA.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Ludacris

When you dine with the devil, bring a long spoon.” — Machiavelli

Having a ‘thug’ like Ludacris anywhere near your marketing campaign may not be a good thing.  Yet, Harley-Davidson has decided having a pitchman who glamorizes a life of guns, violence, drugs and is disrespectful of women is EXACTLY what’s needed to turn around motorcycle sales.

The “hoes in different area codes” rapper has released many songs that convey and represent his morals.  Even President Obama said he wouldn’t let his daughters listen to his rap, but did admit Ludacris was a ‘great businessman’.  Political pandering is not my point here.

Recently H-D collaborated with RIDES Magazine to create custom bikes for recording artists Ludacris and Shawnna.  This promotion was in part to gear up for the release of their album “Battle of the Sexes”, where the artists worked with RIDES and “New York Nick” Genender, shop owner of NYC Choppers, to create bikes that reflect their individual personalities.  There is a behind-the-scenes video of the build HERE and more videos/photos can be viewed at RIDES.  In addition, they’re giving away a motorcycle to one lucky winner: a customized 2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom, created in part with suggestions by RIDES readers. Learn more about the bike or enter for a chance to win HERE.

Is this a shrewd advertising move to use a pitchman who’s going to draw attention to a community that H-D wants to sell motorcycles to or is this a mistake to promote and associate the H-D trademarks with a person that espouses violence, degrading sex and substance abuse?

Does anyone remember how fast Pepsi pulled the ‘musician’ from its soft-drink advertisements in 2002?

Photo courtesy of H-D and RIDE.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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SOA_BackIt’s not the formula used for the Sons of Anarchy script!

Speaking of television, the SOA Season 2 premiere — “Albification” — was last night and for those who missed it here is a quick recap:

  1. SAMCRO has a new threat by the name of White Power.  Henry Rollins is a perfect fit/add to the cast.
  2. A Mayan (rival MC) drug-dealing member is setup as the killer of Donna (Opie’s “squeeze” in season 1) and executed.
  3. Opie’s retribution includes the club logo knife carving/body mutilation of said rival club member.
  4. Because the execution goes sideways, Jax makes adjustments to pin it on a L.A. street gang — the One-Niner’s.
  5. Gemma is carjacked then gang raped by masked men who tell her as long as SOA deals in guns she won’t be safe.

There you have it.  Guns, violence, sex, mutilation, and more gore for shock value.

Some rather disturbing moments on television to say the least.  Truly a gruesome and brutal reintroduction to Sons of Anarchy.  It makes a person wonder if the writers aren’t copycatting the crimes of antichrist-apparent Charles Manson.  Just how much more evil and gratuitous violence do we have to endure?!   What’s next Mr. Sutter?  Child pornography, body part disposal in acid, animal rituals, an ice pick stabbing in the eye, or how about another round of the old school blow torching of club tattoo’s?  How dark is dark or gory enough?  That distant growl you hear isn’t motorcycle exhaust — it’s the impending backlash of your audience saying you’ve gone too far.   The gang rape was out of bounds.  Recalibrate your violence meter.

I’ve previously posted about SAMCRO at:

Outlaw Gangs Are New Media Darlings
Men Of Mayhem
Bikes, Bullets And Brawls
Mailroom Of Life
Bottling Ideas

Photo courtesy of SOA web site.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog.

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