This recent headline in the Black Hills Pioneer newspaper has caused a certain amount of wailing, panic and gnashing of teeth in our local communities. Most comments I have heard and seen, including some hysterical facebook posts, have been less than positive about the development, to put it mildly. Apparently some people remember those 60s and 70s exploitation movies about the murderous invading motorcycle gangs, corrupting youth and abusing old people while systematically destroying the town.
But before we get too carried away let's look at some past newspaper reports from around the country...
LACONIA - The 2011 World Run of the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club has come and gone with authorities reporting no accidents, no incidents and, at least in the City on the Lakes, no arrests of club members or affiliates.
MISSOULA - Other than a few minor dustups, Missoula's Friday night engagement with the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club passed without any notable alarms or felonious thuggery. "We're on vacation. We didn't come all this way to get arrested, we came here to have a good time," said one biker from Omaha, Neb.
CODY - Despite busy Friday and Saturday nights that saw large crowds in downtown Cody and at the Park County Fair in Powell, there were no arrests involving Hell's Angels members.
CARLTON - Hell's Angels members left Carlton County on Sunday after what's being called one of their most uneventful summer rallies.
You see, it may not be as big of a deal as you think. It probably depends on whether you see them as charity volunteers helping serve at the community soup kitchen Thanksgiving dinner...
Or as mother rapers and father stabbers whose main purpose is to look mean and cause trouble...
My only experience with any Hell's Angels in recent memory was a couple of years ago in Deadwood during the Sturgis Rally. Two members of the club (I think the patch on their vests said San Pedro Chapter) stopped me on the street and asked if I would take their picture in front of Saloon No. 10. The one who handed me his camera was wearing long baggy houndstooth shorts with a "Life is Good" t-shirt and pale yellow high-top Converse sneakers. He did have a lot of tatoos but, still, not really what one would call a menacing figure. Actually, I've seen mountain bikers around here dressed pretty much the same way.
Let's not panic. The Run will be close to the time of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and we may not even notice a bunch of Hell's Angels in town. But...in the interest of fairness, and in an attempt to cover both sides of the arguement, I offer the following news article:
CHINO VALLEY - Authorities in Arizona arrested more than two dozen members of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang in August after a shootout wounded five people in the small community of Chino Valley, north of Prescott.
So, I guess it won't hurt to be a little more careful and alert around that time. You, know, just in case.