Criminal Justice Paper on Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

In the 20th century, the motorcycle was first introduced to the general public. The public fascinated by the sense of adventure, reliability and the inexpensive form of transport that emerged across the world. Motorcycles brought about comradery of riders that led to the emergence of outlaw motorcycle gangs majorly in the United States, and later on across the world. The gangs brought a sense of fun within the global majorly in events such as weddings, as such, the public fascinated more of these gangs. However, throughout the years, the concept of the motorcycle gangs brought focus and attention to their activities.

Outlaw motorcycle gangs were experienced in three periods; the preformation period from 1901-1944, the formation period 1945-1957, and the transformation period from 1958 to the present day. During the Reformation period, the introduction of motorcycles across the world brought a sense of comradery amongst the riders. As such, they formed associations and clubs of motorcycle enthusiasts around the U.S. In the formation period, the ex-servicemen of the motorcycle clubs formed clubs together (Lauchs 3). As such, the rise of hooliganism was experienced in those motorcycle clubs. This was identified by the Hollister riot that occurred in 1947. The bikers overran on an estimated population of 4000 residents of Hollister. However, a seven-member police force managed to handle the criminal activities of the gangs. With that, outlaw motorcycle gangs decided to part ways with the other social bikers as the American Motorcycle Association identified them as one-percenters, to mean that they were not law-abiding riders. As such, the media created negative myths about these outlaw motorcycle gangs and they embraced and managed to live up to the media’s negative profile and became more proactively deviant. In the transformation period, the outlaw motorcycle gangs developed an internationally recognized outlaw culture that they recently embrace. The outlaw culture is identified into two categories, which is the conservative and radical behaviors that are embraced in this period (Lauchs 3). On the conservative behaviors, the gangs escalated uncivilized and violent activities. On the other hand, the radical behaviors embraced the acquisition of profit through criminal activities. Moreover, in this period, the outlaw motorcycle gangs engaged in diverse violence for instance, in 1969, an incident was registered at Hell Angels at Rolling Stones concert. The outlaw motorcycle gangs were hired to provide security at Rolling Stones concert in California. One of the gang’s members decided to stab Meredith Hunter, an intruder who rushed to the concert’s stage with a gun.

Outlaw motorcycle gangs are believed to have emerged, developed and spread from the United States to the other countries. Global statistics prove that a large proportion of the motorcycle gangs is currently located in the U.S. According to the national statistics from the U.S National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the body estimated that 7.1 million motorcyclists were registered. The American Motorcyclist Association identified the majority of the motorcyclists as law-abiding citizens (Payne). Moreover, AMA recognized a small proportion of the motorcyclists as one percenter who embraced anti-social attitudes and engaged in criminal activities. The outlaw motorcycle gangs do have a restrictive membership, majorly depicted from the dressing codes. The gangs recognized vest adorned with a large club specific patch as the primary visual identification of a member of the club. The patches contained certain identification requirements such as the club logo, club’s name and other chapters of identification. For instance, the outlaw motorcycle gangs used three-piece patches while the nonconformist social clubs used one-piece patch. The three-piece patched on the outlaw motorcycle gangs contained the club’s logo. Moreover, the nature of the outlaw club was identified by the number and the arrangement of the patches. With these requirements, the members were required to closely guard their colors, as the fall of the colors onto the wrong hands was regarded as a disgrace and would earn a severe punishment. As such, the law enforcement organizations regarded the riders who put on three-piece patch colors as outlaw motorcycle gangs who engaged in criminal activities. As such, the law enforcement organizations estimated that 280 to 520 outlaw motorcycle gangs existed in the U.S, that’s a rough estimation of 20000 members of these gangs.

Outlaw motorcycle gangs are known for their secrecy about the structure of their organizations and leadership. However, their criminal activities are infamous to the global society. Essentially, they engaged in activities such as drug and firearms trafficking, money laundering, extortion and violent offenses (Shields 5). For instance, in 1972, two brothers ripped off Bandidos Motorcycle Club in a drug deal, by selling baking to the club. In the aftermath, the two brothers shot and killed two club’s members they kidnapped. In 2006, another criminal activity was recognized in Ontario. Bandidos motorcycle club gunned down eight members of the group with the notion of taking over the Canadian chapter of the gang. However, the members landed in prison for murder. In 2015, another criminal activity of the outlaw motorcycle gangs was registered in North Texas. Essentially, rival motorcycle gangs clashed in this area. The shootout between Bandidos and the Cossacks biker gangs left 9 people dead, and at least 18 people hospitalized. The clash also left valuable property destroyed. These motorcycle gangs associate themselves with diverse criminal activities which are identified to extend beyond the borders of the United States. An incident of drug and weapons trafficking to Canada and Mexico was registered as the gangs tried to seek for new chapters in foreign countries (Shields 5). As such, the global society has recognized these outlaw motorcycle gangs as threats are they heavily engage in both dangerous national and global criminal activities.

The outlaw motorcycle gangs had diverse processes to register a member into the club. To be a member of some of the motorcycle gangs, an individual had to pass through various stages such as a friend of the club, hang –around, and prospect. In the hang-around, an individual was mandated to perform menial labor tasks for the full patch members (Payne). In the prospect stage, for an individual to become a full member of the gang club, the prospect had to be voted in and later take an oath of allegiance with the specific outlaw motorcycle gang. As such, a final logo patch was awarded to the individual for becoming a full member of the outlaw motorcycle gang.

Overall, outlaw motorcycle gangs have in the recent years portrayed in movies such as the outlaw biker film. Despite the negative profile, the outlaw motorcyclists have inspired fashion trends across the world. As such, the culture of these outlaw motorcyclists has had a great influence around the globe. The gangs’ clothing and motorcycles have become cultural icons around the world and led to the public’s fascination and focus on these gangs.




Works Cited

Lauchs, Mark. “Are Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Organized Crime Groups? An Analysis of the Finks MC.” Deviant Behavior (2018): 1-14., Accessed July 31, 2018.

Payne, Ed. “Biker Gangs: A History of Violence.” CNN, Cable News Network, 19 May 2015, Accessed July 31, 2018.

Shields, Danielle. “The Infamous ‘One Percenters’: A Review of the Criminality, Subculture, and Structure of Modern Biker Gangs.” Justice Policy Journal 9.1 (2012): 1-33., Accessed July 31, 2018.