Sunday, 25 September 2011

Hells Angels

The Hells Angels were originally formed in 1948 in Fontana, California through an amalgamation of former members from different motorcycle clubs, such as The Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington. The Hells Angels website denies the suggestion that any misfit or malcontent troops are connected with the motorcycle club. However, the website notes that the name was suggested by Arvid Olsen, an associate of the founders, who had served in the Flying Tigers "Hells Angels" squadron in China during World War II. The name "Hells Angels" was believed[by whom? to have been inspired by the common historical use, in both World War I and World War II, to name squadrons or other fighting groups by a fierce, death-defying name. The Flying Tigers (American Volunteer Group) in Burma and China fielded three squadrons of P-40s; the Third Squadron was named "Hell's Angels". The 1930 Howard Hughes film Hell's Angels displayed extraordinary and dangerous feats of aviation, and it is believed that the World War II groups who used that name based it on the film.Some of the early history of the HAMC is not clear, and accounts differ. According to Ralph 'Sonny' Barger, founder of the Oakland chapter, early chapters of the club were founded in San Francisco, Gardena, Fontana, as well as his chapter in Oakland, and other places independently of one another, with the members usually being unaware that there were other Hells Angels clubs.

Other sources claim that the Hells Angels in San Francisco were originally organized in 1953 by Rocky Graves, a Hells Angel member from San Bernardino ("Berdoo"). This implies that the "Frisco" Hells Angels were very much aware of their forebears. According to another account, the Hells Angels club was a successor to "P.O.B.O.B." Motorcycle club, The "Frisco" Hells Angels were reorganized in 1955 with thirteen charter members; Frank Sadliek, who designed the original death's head logo, served as President. The Oakland chapter, at that time headed by Barger, used a larger version of the patch nicknamed the "Barger Larger" which was first used in 1959 and later became the club standard.
In an interview in September 2011, with one of the original "thirteen", the above history is confirmed as basically accurate. The person interviewed is perhaps the only one of the original thirteen still living. The youngest member would be aged mid-seventies at this point, and they all engaged in a life of reckless behavior. The Frisco Hells Angels were formed in 1953 by Rocky Graves, a member of the Berdoo Hells Angels. The group fell apart and was reformed in the summer of 1955 with thirteen living members. This is the group that continues today. The number thirteen was considered inauspicious by those in attendance at the formation meeting, so another member, known as "Crazy" was installed posthumously. Crazy was killed in 1954 when he rode his motorcycle off of an unfinished elevated San Francisco freeway. Frank Sadilek (correct spelling) was the president of the group, which was formed in 1955. His wife Leila was secretary. 
The Hells Angels are sometimes depicted in a similar mythical fashion as the James-Younger Gang, as modern day legends, or as free spirited and iconic of an era of brotherhood and loyalty. Others describe them as a violent criminal gang and a scourge on society. The 1966 Roger Corman film, The Wild Angels depicts the gang as violent and nihilistic.


New York Hells Angels patch
The Hells Angels official web site attributes the official "death's head" insignia design to Frank Sadilek, past president of the San Francisco Chapter. The colors and shape of the early-style jacket emblem (prior to 1953) were copied from the insignias of the 85th Fighter Squadron and the 552nd Medium Bomber Squadron.
The Hells Angels utilize a system of patches, similar to military medals. Although the specific meaning of each patch is not publicly known, the patches identify specific or significant actions or beliefs of each biker. 
The diamond-shaped one-percenter patch is also used, displaying '1%', in red on a white background with a red merrowed border. The term one-percenter is said to be a response to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) comment on the Hollister incident, to the effect that 99% of motorcyclists were law-abiding citizens and the last 1% were outlaws. The AMA has no record of such a statement to the press, and call this story apocryphal.
Most members wear a rectangular patch (again, white background with red letters and a red merrowed border) identifying their respective chapter locations. Another similarly designed patch reads "Hells Angels".
When applicable, members of the club wear a patch denoting their position or rank within the organization. The patch is rectangular, and, similarly to the patches described above, displays a white background with red letters and a red merrowed border. Some examples of the titles used are President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant at Arms. This patch is usually worn above the 'club location' patch.
In March 2007, the Hells Angels filed suit against Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group alleging that the film entitled Wild Hogs used both the name and distinctive logo of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation without permission. The suit was eventually voluntarily dismissed, after it received assurances that its references would not appear in the film.

Membership of Hells Angels

The full requirements to become a Hells Angel are the following: candidates must be male, have a valid driver's license, have a working motorcycle and cannot be a child molester or have applied to become a police officer or prison guard.
After a lengthy, phased process, a prospective member is first deemed to be a 'Hang-around', indicating that 
the individual is invited to some club events or to meet club members at known gathering places.
If the Hang-around is interested, he may be asked to become an 'Associate', a status that usually lasts a year or two.  Some form of formal induction follows, wherein the Prospect affirms his loyalty to the club and its members. The final logo patch (top Hells Angels rocker) is then awarded at this initiation ceremony. The step of attaining full membership can be referred to as "being patched".
Even after a member is patched-in, the patches themselves remain the property of HAMC rather than the member. On leaving the Hells Angels, or being ejected, they must be returned to the club.

Hells Angels Official chapters

A Hells Angels wall mural in Southampton, UK, a well-known local landmark that can be seen by rail passengers on the London Waterloo to Weymouth south coast main line as they approach Southampton Central station.
The HAMC acknowledges more than one hundred chapters spread over 29 countries. The first official chapter outside of the US was formed in New Zealand in 1961. Europe did not become home to the Hells Angels until 1969, when two London chapters were formed after the Beatle George Harrison invited some members of the HAMC San Francisco to London. Two people from London visited California, "prospected", and ultimately joined. Two charters were issued on July 30, 1969; one for "South London", the other for "East London" but by 1973 the two charters came together as one, simply called "London". The London Angels provided security at a number of UK Underground festivals including Phun City in 1970 organized by anarchist International Times writer and lead singer with The Deviants Mick Farren. They even awarded Farren an "approval patch" in 1970 for use on his first solo album Mona, which also featured Steve Peregrin Took (who was credited as "Shagrat the Vagrant"). The 1980s and 1990s saw a major expansion of the club into Canada.
A list of acknowledged chapters can be found on the HAMC club's official web site.

Criminal activities of Hells Angels

Hells Angels in Australia

2007 Melbourne CBD shootings

On June 18, 2007, a Hells Angels member fired 6 shots at passers-by who tried to help the member's girlfriend, killing Brendan Keilar and critically wounding two others. On May 12, 2008, Christopher Wayne Hudson pleaded guilty to the murder of Keilar and other offenses committed during the shooting. The Hells Angels however allegedly abducted him and burnt a club tattoo off his forearm before surrendering him to police for his crimes.
Members of the Comancheros and Hells Angels were believed to be involved in a clash at Sydney Airport on Sunday, March 22, 2009. The clash resulted in one man, Hells Angels associate Anthony Zervas, being beaten to death and police estimated as many as 15 men were involved in the violence. Police documents detail the brawl as a result of a Comanchero gang member and a Hells Angel being on the same flight from Melbourne. Four suspects were arrested as a result of the altercation. As a result of heightening violence, New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees announced the state police anti-gang squad would be boosted to 125 members from 50.
On the night of March 29, 2009, Hells Angels member Peter Zervas, the brother of the man killed during the Sydney Airport Brawl a week earlier, was shot and injured as he left his car outside his home.
On July 20, 2011, a NSW judge dismissed a bid by the state's police commissioner to have the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club declared a criminal organisation, under laws introduced to NSW parliament in 2009 allowing the court to declare criminal organisations as declared organisations.

Hells Angels in Canada

An April 2009 CBC News article stated that the Hells Angels have 34 chapters operating in Canada with 460 full-fledged (patched) members. The Hells Angels have 15 chapters in Ontario, 8 in British Columbia, 5 in Quebec, 3 in Alberta, 2 in Saskatchewan and 1 in Manitoba. In a speech to the House of Commons, Bloc Québécois MP Réal Ménard (Hochelaga) stated that there were 38 HAMC chapters across Canada in the mid-1990s. The Vancouver Sun newspaper reports that Canada has more Hells Angels members per capita than any other country, including the U.S., where there are chapters in about 20 states.
The Hells Angels established their first Canadian chapters in the province of Quebec during the seventies. The Outlaws and several affiliated independent clubs were able to keep the Angels from assuming a dominant position in Ontario, Canada's most populous province, until the nineties, while the Grim Reapers of Alberta, Los Bravos in Manitoba, and several other independent clubs across the prairies formed a loose alliance that kept the Hells Angels from assuming dominance in the prairie provinces until the late nineties. By 1997, under the leadership of Walter "Nurget" Stadnick, the Hells Angels had become the dominant club not just in BC and Quebec, but all across Canada, with chapters in at least seven of ten provinces and two of the three territories.

In 2002 Crown Prosecutor Graeme Williams sought to have the Hells Angels formally declared a "criminal organization" by applying the anti-gang legislation (Bill C-24) to a criminal prosecution involving the Hells Angels and two of its members, Stephen (Tiger) Lindsay and Raymond (Razor) Bonner.
The prosecution team launched a three year investigation with the aim of collecting evidence for the trial.
At the conclusion of the trial in June 2005, Ontario Justice Michelle Fuerst ruled that Lindsay and Bonner had committed extortion in association with a criminal organization and had used the Hells Angels' reputation as a weapon.

Hells Angels in British Columbia


In late 2004 to 2005, the culmination of investigations into the actions of the motorcycle club led to charges against 18 people, including members of the Hells Angels and other associates of the gang.

In July 2003, a man offered to give police information and became the police agent around whom much of the E-Pandora investigation ensued. Charges arose from project E-Pandora, an extensive police investigation, into the alleged criminal activities of the East End Charter of the Hells Angels (the "EEHA"). The evidence in this case included intercepted private communications including telephone and audio recordings, physical surveillance, and expert evidence. The case would eventually be dubbed the trial of R. v. Giles and would see three charged individuals appear before the Supreme Court of British Columbia (SCBC). 72 appearances would span from May 14, 2007 until February 20, 2008 and, by order of Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie, include a publication ban on related trials.

No comments: