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New Mexico American Legion Riders Motorcycle association — State
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New Mexico State Motorcycle Runs and Rallies
Southwest Bike Travel-Zine
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Motorcycle Touring Association
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Willville Motorcycle Campground MOTORCYCLES ONLY
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Motorcycle club
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about "American-style" motorcycle clubs (MCs) as a specific cultural phenomenon, not motorcycle riding clubs in the generic sense of the term.

A Motorcycle Club (MC) is an organized club of motorcycle riders who follow a series of traditional rules for participation in the club, including, but not limited to, a group of elected officers; a probationary period for new members; the wearing of a specific club patch (or patches) adorned with the term "MC"; a measure of privacy about their internal structure, bylaws, and membership; and some level of sworn allegiance to other members of the club.

The typical internal organization of a motorcycle club consists of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, road captain, and sergeant-at-arms. Localized groups of a single, large MC are called chapters, and the first chapter established for an MC is referred to as the mother chapter. The president of the mother chapter serves as the president of the entire MC, and sets club policy on a variety of issues.

There are a great many clubs for motorcycle riders who refer to themselves generically as motorcycle clubs. Though they are grammatically correct, these clubs are not MCs in the strictest sense of the term, and members of MCs (as defined in this article) regard these other clubs as motorcycle riding clubs.

MC members are not usually referred to by their given names, but instead refer to each other by nicknames, or road names, sometimes even displaying their road name on the club vest. Whether or not this practice was carried over from the military aviation history of colorful pilot callsigns is not known.

The earliest motorcycle clubs were started following World War II by pilots looking for the same thrills they experienced during the war, though the reputed oldest motorcycle club is the Yonkers MC, founded in 1903. Other notable early clubs include the San Francisco MC, founded 1904, and the Oakland MC, founded 1907.

The membership process for most motorcycle clubs begins as a guest or "hang-around", wherein an individual is invited to some club events or meets club members at known gathering places. If the guest is interested, they may ask to become a member. If accepted, they remain a prospective member, or prospect, for some minimum time period, participating in some club activities, but not having voting privileges, while they are evaluated for suitability as full members. Some clubs refer to a potential member as a probationary member or probate. Though probationary status is usually reserved for those that already have the necessary knowledge and experience to be members. For example, if an entire chapter switches from one club to another, the members are Probationary members for some period of time.

Some amount of hazing may occur during the prospecting period, ranging from the mandatory performance of menial labor tasks for full patch members to sophomoric pranks, and, in the case of some outlaw motorcycle clubs, acts of civil disobedience or crime. During this time, the prospect may wear the club name on the back of their vest, but not the full logo, though this practice may vary from club to club.

To become a full member, the prospect or probate must be voted on by the rest of the full club members. Successful admission usually requires more than a simple majority, and some clubs may reject a prospect or a probate for a single dissenting vote. Some form of formal induction follows, where in the new member affirms his loyalty to the club and its members. The final logo patch is then awarded.

Full members are often referred to as "full patch members" and the step of attaining full membership can be referred to as "being patched".

Most one-percenter MCs do not allow women to become members.


Motorcycle club vest, with logo. Note small "MC" on deaths head logo patch.(Smithsonian Institution)The primary visual identification of a member of an MC is the vest adorned with a specific large club patch or patches, predominantly located in the middle of the back. The patch(es) will contain a club logo, the name of the club, and the letters "MC", and a possible state, province, or other chapter identification. This garment and the patches themselves are referred to as the "colors".

The colors for some clubs can consist of a single, one-piece patch, while other clubs may have a three (or more) piece patch. In the latter case, the top and bottom patches are referred to as rockers.

The club patches always remain property of the club itself, not the member, and only members are allowed to wear the clubs colors. A member must closely guard their colors. Allowing ones colors to fall into the hands of an outsider is an act of disgrace and may result in loss of membership in a club, or worse.

One MC successfully sued a law enforcement agency for the return of a members colors following a police raid.[citation needed]

One Percenters, Gangs and Outlaws
Motorcycle clubs are often perceived as criminal organizations or, at best, gangs of hoodlums or thugs by traditional society. This perception has been fueled by the movies, popular culture, and highly publicized isolated incidents.

One of the most notorious of these incidents occurred in Hollister, California in 1947[1][2] and is now dubbed the Hollister riot. Whether or not an actual riot occurred is debatable, but there was a motorcycle rally in Hollister from July 4th to July 6th of that year that was attended by about 4000 people. Several newspaper articles were written that, according to some attendees, sensationalized the event and Life magazine ran an article and a staged photograph of an intoxicated subject on a motorcycle parked in a bar.

The press asked the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) to comment, and their response was that 99% of motorcyclists were law-abiding citizens, and the last one percent were outlaws. Thus was born the term, "one percenter".[3]

The film The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando, was inspired by the event, and it became the first in a series of movies that depicted bikers and members of motorcycle clubs in this stereotypical manner.

During the 1940s and 1950's, at rallies and gatherings sponsored by the AMA, prizes were awarded for nicest club uniform, prettiest motorcycle, and so forth. Some clubs, however, rejected the clean-cut image and adopted the "one percenter" moniker, even going so far as to create a diamond (rhombus) shaped patch labeled "1%" to wear on their vests as a badge of honor. The 1% patch is also used to instill fear and respect from the general public and other motorcyclists. Other clubs wore (and still wear) upside down AMA patches. Another practice was to cut their one piece club patches into three or more pieces as a form of protest, which evolved into the current form of three piece colors worn by many MCs today.

One percent clubs point out that the term simply means that they are simply committed to "biking and brotherhood", where riding isn't a weekend activity, but a way of living. These clubs assert that local and national law enforcement agencies have co-opted the term to paint them as criminals. [4]

While it is a fact that individual members of some MCs, and even entire chapters have engaged in felonious behavior, other members and supporters of these clubs insist that these are isolated occurrences and that the clubs, as a whole, are not criminal organizations. They often compare themselves to police departments, wherein the occasional "bad cop" does not make a police department a criminal organization, either. At least one biker website has a news section devoted to "cops gone bad" to support their point of view. [5] Many one percenter clubs, including the Hells Angels, sponsor charitable events throughout the year for such causes as Salvation Army shelters and Toys for Tots. [6]

Alternatively, both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC) have designated certain MCs as Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs), among them the Pagans, Hells Angels, Outlaws MC, and Bandidos.[7][8] Canada, especially, has experienced a significant upsurge in crime involving members and associates of these MCs, most notably in what has been dubbed the Quebec Biker war.

Some members of the Hells Angels MC have been indicted on various charges, including RICO charges, murder, robbery, extortion, trafficking in stolen and VIN-switched motorcycles, methamphetamine and cocaine distribution. [9][10] In April, 2006, eight members or associates of the Bandidos MC were found murdered in a farm field in Ontario, Canada in what police have described as an internal cleansing of the Bandidos organization. One of the men charged with the murders is, himself, a Bandidos MC full patch member. [11] As recently as September 29, 2006, the president and another officer of the San Francisco chapter of the Hells Angels were indicted on charges of methamphetamine and cocaine distribution. [12]

Relationships between MCs
In the United States, most MCs have established state-wide MC confederations. These confederations are usually composed of most MCs who have chapters in the state, and the occasional interested third party organization. The confederation holds periodic meetings on neutral ground, wherein representatives from each club (usually the presidents and vice-presidents, but not always) meet in closed session to resolve disputes between clubs and discuss issues of common interest.

The largest one-percent club tends to dominate the confederation, using their numbers to impose their will on other clubs. Sometimes clubs are forced into "support" roles for a one-percent club. Smaller clubs who resist a large one-percent club have been forcibly disbanded, e.g. told to hand over their colors or risk war. Smaller clubs usually comply, since members of a family club are usually unwilling to risk injury or worse.

Some large one-percent MCs are rivals with each other and will fight over territory and other issues. [13] In 2002, members of the Mongols MC and the Hells Angels MC had a confrontation in Laughlin, Nevada at the Harrah's Laughlin Casino, that left three bikers dead. Police intelligence reports indicate that the Mongols initiated the confrontation to bolster their status. [14]. Another melee between the Hells Angels and the Pagans MC occurred in February, 2002 at a Hells Angels convention. Police reports indicate the Pagans were outraged that the event was held on what the Pagans considered their "home turf".[15]

Notable MCs

See also: List of motorcycle clubs
Notable motorcycle clubs include (in alphabetical order):

Bandidos MC
Boozefighters MC
Hells Angels MC
Mongols MC
Outlaws MC
Pagans MC
San Francisco MC, the second oldest MC in the United States
Yonkers MC, the oldest MC in the United States

See Also:
Out In Bad Standings; Inside The Bandidos Motorcycle Club by Edward Winterhalder, Blockhead City Press 2005 USA

^ Dougherty, C.I. "Motorcyclists Take Over Town, Many Injured." San Francisco Chronicle. July 5, 1947
^ Dougherty, C.I. "2000 'Gypsycycles' Chug Out of Town and the Natives Sigh 'Never Again'." San Francisco Chronicle. July 6, 1947
^ The Austin Chronicle, 5/19/2006, The "One Percenters"
^ Outlaws MC website, What is a Outlaws MC 1%er Today
^ Missoulian, Storm Approaching
^ FBI Safe Street Violent Crime Initiative Report Fiscal Year 2000
^ Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC) Annual Report
^ Five Hells Angels Motorcycle Gang Members and Associates Charged with Federal Racketeering Offenses
^ 12 Arrested in Raids Targeting a Methamphetamine and Cocaine Distribution Ring
^ CBC News, Five charged in biker gang killings
^ American Chronicle, Hell's Angels President, Sergeant-at-Arms Nailed on Drug Charges
^ Words from an MC patch holder
^ Las Vegas Review Journal, 4/30/2002; LAUGHLIN SHOOTOUT: Signs told of melee in making
^ The New York Times, 3/13/2002; Metro Briefing | New York: Central Islip: 73 Bikers Indicted

External links
Motorcycle Club & Riding Club Education
Conventional Wisdom Regarding MC Patches

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014 22:12


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