Members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club have been convicted of offenses including meth trafficking, firearms violations, robbery, assault and murder. The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is described as an organized crime syndicate by the US Department of Justice; the list of its criminal activities is so extensive that it rates its own entry in Wikipedia.
The two clubs have a history of bad blood – literally. In 2002 they had a little disagreement in a Nevada casino that resulted in one Mongol being stabbed to death and two Hells Angels being shot to death.
So when members of these two estimable organizations got together at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center during the Run to the Cascades biker rally last week, it wasn’t likely that they’d spend an afternoon sipping tea, eating watercress sandwiches and complimenting each other’s begonias. And they fully lived up – or down – to expectations.
According to police, some Mongols got into a dispute with some Angels that ended with the Mongols threatening the Angels with violence if they didn’t leave the fairgrounds within 15 minutes. Weapons allegedly were flashed. It took 40 cops to break up the squabble. The Angels left, but reportedly promised they’d be back soon with reinforcements.
That was enough for the Redmond Police and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department, who contacted Expo Center officials and suggested the rally should be shut down. The officials agreed, and fortunately bloodshed was averted.
The police and fairgrounds officials deserve praise for acting quickly enough to prevent what could have been serious carnage. At the same time, we have to wonder what possessed the fairgrounds officials to book an event like this in the first place. Given the ethos and history of motorcycle gangs – especially the “one-percenter” outlaw gangs – violence was completely predictable. (By the time the rally was shut down, three attendees had been arrested on assorted charges ranging from disorderly conduct to attempted murder.)
But every cloud has a silver lining or two, and there are at least two of them to this shabby episode. One is that police are urging fairgrounds officials not to host another biker rally. “This event is something I will strongly advocate to never be held here again,” Redmond Police Capt. Brian McNaughton told reporters.
We couldn’t agree more. Central Oregonians might have to tolerate outlaw motorcycle gangs passing through, but we don’t have to go out of our way to attract them.
The other bright spot is that by getting the rally shut down early the Mongols prevented a performance by Foghat, a truly horrible “classic rock” cover band that’s been hanging on like grim death since its glory days of the mid-1970s. (Its original lead singer, Lonesome Dave Peverett, joined the celestial choir 12 years ago, and only one original member of the band remains.)
Although they might not be the kind of guys you’d want your daughter to bring home, the Mongols’ public service in blocking Foghat’s performance deserves everybody’s gratitude, so we’re giving them THE GLASS SLIPPER. On second thought, make that a steel-toed glass motorcycle boot.