I write this article with respect to all and to help educate those who want to understand a little of the MC world. My knowledge is most likely not complete as I am female and not privy to several things in the male only MC world, but what I have learned and know to be true is what I am sharing with you today. Please visit the links I provide to further educate yourself.
As long as there are people, this world will always be a place filled with ego, hidden agendas and subterfuge and on the other side, honesty, integrity and loyalty.
There are good cops who do their jobs with integrity just as there are bad ones. There are good priests who don't go around molesting young boys just as there are those who do harm. There are good politicians who truly want to make a positive difference and others who lie and manipulate, cheat and steal. There are good bikers, riders and enthusiasts who just want to ride and do good and there are those who do bad and also ride.
In the cruising-touring segment of the motorcycle community there are so many political mine fields to walk through, largely due to the mis-information doled out by the police, the main stream media and the people involved in the motorcycle clubs.
Our community has grown so fast, here in Canada, in 2003 there were 350,000 registered for highway use motorcycles, that number in 2013 was just over 700,000.
With that growth comes ignorance of our culture and traditions. And no, I am not being demeaning.
It is up to the "Old Guard" to teach the young ones, the new ones and remind the returning ones, how the motorcycle community is structured and why.
There used to be a time when I could walk into any biker rally and by scanning the patches of the people around me, I knew who was who and where I wanted to be. Not so today. Today our patches and colours have a diluted hierarchy, a muddying of the colours so to speak. And that alone is enough to cause tension. We have laws and bylaws that see patch holders forced to remove their cut in order to go into a drinking establishment or licensed event. Now you really are in a mine field.
We are human and as such, many of us seek others of like mind to share the connection the ride provides.
Many who are drawn to the motorcycle community are "A" type personalities, independent thinkers and consequently we often times don't play well with others. Hence, almost every day of the week a new club is springing up or one is shutting down, generally over disagreements on how a club should be run or by a dominant who will not allow a certain cut to be present.
My article yesterday on my time with the Snow City Crew of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club has stirred some controversy, mostly from members of other MC's in the US and Ontario. These people accuse the Iron Order MC of being a cop club, and with the recent shooting of a Black Piston's MC patch holder by a prospect of the IO MC, well let's just say things in the US look set to get real ugly.
The Black Pistons MC is a support club of the Outlaws MC.
Let's get a little bit of a history lesson going on here...
Motorcycles have been embraced by people of all walks of life, including women, since their inception, but our community experienced a huge shift and growth after World War II.
Not unlike the one it has seen in the last ten years.
You hear the term "Brotherhood" used a lot in the community, but many don't understand the term, at least not fully and not as it is uniquely meant in our community.
Many men returning from the war after serving in combat units that were tight knit brotherhoods came home and felt like islands. No one in the civilian world could relate to them and the horrors they saw and sometimes committed in the name of war. After all no one in the civilian world had ever relied upon another man to have his back and keep him safe. No one in the civilian world had experienced the deep fear, the deep gratitude and the deep sorrow of war in the way these men had, so how could they understand them?
Not unlike our soldiers today, these men, many of them suffered from what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
They grew up in a time when men didn't complain, they didn't share their emotions much and no one recognized PTSD for what it was. The only people they were comfortable with were those that they didn't have to explain anything to - their fellow soldier. Many of the original "Outlaw" Clubs were founded by ex service men and ex police officers. They do after all share a similar "Brotherhood" in their jobs. The man on the battlefield that does not put his brother before himself was considered a coward and generally didn't last long in combat. Your very life relied on the man behind you, beside you and in front of you. You ate together, worked together and protected each other in ways your own biological family members would never dream of, hence the term "Brotherhood".
Many of these men of like mind and experience also self medicated by partying, to put themselves as far away from the horrors and nightmares as they could. We see the same issues today.
The infamous Hollister riot of July 4th 1947 is what gave rise to the term 1% Outlaw Biker.
According to history, the Gypsy Tour Motorcycle Rally Revival event, an AMA sanctioned event saw way more bikers than in years preceding the war. The small 4,500 person town was swelled to over flowing and as happens with large groups of intoxicated people, their were fights, drunk riders stunting and racing, people sleeping on the streets and anywhere they could lay their head down as there was a huge shortage of accommodations.
The AMA was erroneously attributed with the following statement that many believe is the beginning of the term 1% and Outlaw being used in our community:
"The trouble was caused by the one per cent deviant that tarnishes the public image of both motorcycles and motorcyclists" and that the other ninety-nine per cent of motorcyclists are good, decent, law-abiding citizens."
Nontheless that is the Urban myth about how Outlaws MC's and 1%ers got their name.
The truth is that many of these men formed clubs after this event in retaliation to the way the AMA treated them and their hard partying ways.
Traditional MC's that are sanctioned by the AMA or CMA here in Canada sometimes sport a three piece patch and are law abiding clubs. In the 1980's many clubs did choose to sew their top and bottom rockers to their center patch to differentiate themselves and some adopted MCC as part of their name, while others kept the MC. Many AMA sanctioned MC's are actually racing clubs....
The Yonkers MC is the Oldest known MC formed in 1903, they started as a bicycle club.
They are what is termed a Traditional MC: Wear a three piece patch, are AMA Sanctioned, a men's only club, the adhere to a strict code of conduct. It is not clear if they require a prospecting phase.
The 13 Rebels Motorcycle Club is another one of the oldest MC's around, founded in 1937 and was founded by 13 top AMA racers, again, wears a one piece patch, AMA sanctioned and men only. Their moto is: "Not to bully the weak. Not to fear the powerful." They adhere to a strict code of conduct. Although they wear a one piece patch, their code is similar to that of the traditional 3 piece patch clubs.
Another MC sanctioned by the AMA is the Wingmen who have been around since the late 70'S
http://www.9339mc.com/index.html, they wear a three piece patch, have a strict code of conduct and require a prospecting phase.
MOST but not all Outlaw motorcycle clubs started out as motorcycle clubs with a drinking/partying problem. They simply wanted to have what they deemed to be fun.
The Boozefighters MC were founded by "Wino" Willie Forkner after he was ousted from the 13 Rebels MC for his rowdy ways. They were formed in 1946 and started with the philosophy of Ride, Party & Brotherhood. There in lie the major differences in the Traditional AMA sanctioned MC's and the non AMA sanctioned Outlaw MC's.
Family oriented, but hard partying describes most Outlaw MC's, many consider themselves to be basically law abiding but all will defend their families, their brotherhood and their country.
What ties these clubs together under the banner of Outlaw is their prospecting period. YOU EARN your patch, you don't just buy it. The patch is club property and it is a privilege to wear it and the responsibility of every prospect and patch holder to protect that property.
These types of clubs seldom if ever claim a territory.
1%er MC's are yet again different. They not only wear the three piece patch and have a prospecting phase, but they generally sport the 1% diamond on their chest. Not only are these MC's not sanctioned by the AMA but they claim territory.
The Outlaws MC were formed in 1935 originally as the American Outlaws Association
The Hells Angels MC were formed in 1948
The Bandidos MC were formed in 1966
NOT ALL Outlaw Clubs are 1% Clubs, but all 1% Clubs ARE Outlaw Clubs.
So now that we have a little bit of history on who and how Outlaw MC's are and came to be, and you are thoroughly confused - let's get on with the Iron Order MC controversy.
It is my understanding that the 1% MC world resents the Iron Order for primarily two things:
1) not asking permission to exist from the dominant clubs and not following CoC Protocols especially since they are not AMA sanctioned.
2) they are considered by many a cop club because they allow law enforcement officers as members if they can pass the prospecting phase and one of their founding members was a cop.
There are deep rivalries and hatreds in the US in particular when it comes to this MC and they were not made any better by the shooting in Jacksonville that took place last week.
The entire Outlaw MC world is a mine field.
Many Veteran's MC's are Outlaw MC's that have a prospecting phase and allow police officers in their fold.
Many Police MC's are Outlaw MC's in that they require a prospecting phase and sport a three piece patch and some of those MC's have been known to conduct themselves as if they were 1% clubs.
Our community is fraught with politics and pressure from the outside and the inside.
The fighting amongst the MC's can turn deadly in a heart beat and remember, many of the people drawn to these types of clubs have military, police and fire fighting backgrounds and generally the muscle to back up their point when in an altercation.
You do not have to be a "criminal" club to get caught up in the worst of situations, you do that by putting that patch on your back. Even when you ask permission of a local dominant and get it, that doesn't mean that when you travel you have the right to wear your patch in their territory, or so I am told.
Many clubs that have started in the last 10 years or so have not followed the protocols of going to the dominant of their region before sporting their cut, some because they didn't know that was protocol (there's that whole education thing) and some because they do not believe that in the land of the Free, the home of the Brave, that they should have to. That is because many of them have military or police service time in their background and feel they fought for their right to be who and what they are. Some clubs don't agree with that mind set.
Their argument is who did the Hells Angels, the Bandidos, the Rebels, the Outlaws or any other club pre 1988 ask permission of for their right to exist?
The CoC that set out the protocols was founded in 1988, in Canada they are the Ontario Confederation of Clubs and in the US - NCOM National Coalition of Clubs
That causes tension, like it or not.
If you choose to wear the cut of an Outlaw Club, then you need to be prepared for the day when, not IF, you have to defend that cut and your brothers and yes, that can mean with your life.
If you are what is termed a Law Abiding MC, that means little if a member from a territorial club resents your presence and decides to "handle" things.
This is a man's world, one where violence is justified as protection of one's patch, brother and territory first and foremost. All men on both sides of the fence swear an oath to their club and their brothers. And whether any of them get the irony of it all or not, they will all die to defend what they believe in.
The irony of the situation from a female's perspective is that they are separated by so little.
They have far more in common than they might think, but grudges, personalities and other forms of rivalry abound.
They all believe in Freedom, Brotherhood, Family, Loyalty, Integrity. They all EARN their patches, and they are all rebelling against society and its structure in one way or another. And yet, so many can't stand each other.
It is not a world for the faint of heart. It can get ugly. Very ugly. But no matter who I have ever talked to be they Outlaw MC or 1% MC member, they all feel the same way, their membership in the club of their choice is as essential to them and their lives as breathing is for the rest of us.
The rivalry, the angst, the political issues aside, every man I have ever met that has taken the steps to hang around, prospect and ultimately become a patch holder says the club has changed their life and given them something that was missing in their lives.
There are many who THINK they seek that kind of brotherhood. There are few who make the grade.
And that my friends is what I know about the MC world.
Have a safe day...
Belt Drive Betty
Editor & Rider