Ivy Tech Community College
For many motorists, it's the norm to feel fear when a swarm of burly guys with tattoos come roaring into the rearview mirror on their loud, modified Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Societies assumption, right or wrong, is that the individuals belong to a motorcycle gang, or club, is that they'll bust you up thoroughly if you so much as look at one of them the wrong way. The most famous of these clubs, or infamous depending on your point of view, is the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. It's the one that created the model of the "outlaw" motorcycle group that we know today.
Its members are known by the public as being fearsome, short-tempered, power hungry, and often involved in criminal activity, despite efforts of local club chapters to perform good works in the community. Law enforcement keeps close tabs on the Hells Angels and other motorcycle-centered organizations -- police say the bikers often resort to murder to eliminate rivals who threaten their profitable criminal enterprises.
With a reputation firmly established in popular culture, the Hells Angels have developed a modern mythology around themselves that presents as many questions about the group as answers. Are the Hells Angels organized criminals or compassionate givers to charity and the community? What really goes on behind closed club meeting doors?
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) is the most notorious OMG in the United States. The gang has over 92 chapters in 27 states in the United States. Internationally, the Hells Angels are active in 26 foreign countries. The OMG is actively involved in the transportation and distribution of narcotics and weapons. Other criminal activities the Hells Angels are well known for are theft, extortion, money laundering, assault and murder.
The name "Hells Angels" comes from World War I and II fighter squadrons that played on the irony of the phrase. If you pay attention to punctuation rules, you may have noticed a missing apostrophe in the name of the motorcycle club. On the club's official site, the missing apostrophe is explained away as being intentional. The site claims that since there are many types of "hell," no apostrophe is needed. However, even if "Hells" is used in a plural sense, common rules regarding punctuation dictate it should at least end with an apostrophe. But it probably wouldn't be a good idea to quibble with a member over the issue if you met one in public.
Despite the group's fame and long history, there is much about the Angels that remains a mystery. The history of the gang and its current membership are murky topics, and what goes on inside its secretive clubhouses tends to stays there — just as the bikers want it. The Hells Angels Motorcycle Cub began in Fontana, California, in 1948, at a time when military surplus made motorcycles affordable and the placid postwar years left many veterans bored and itching for adventure. A vet named Otto Friedli is credited with starting the club after breaking from one of the earliest postwar motorcycle clubs, the Pissed Off Bastards Of Bloomington (POBOB), in the wake of a bitter feud with a rival gang. "Hell's Angels" was a popular name for bomber squadrons in World Wars I and II, as well as the title of a 1930 Howard Hughes film about the Royal Flying Corps. For years, the HAMC, as members refer to the group, remained a California organization.
New Zealand was the first country outside the United States to get an official Hells Angels chapter, in 1961. London became the first European beachhead for the Hells Angels in 1969 when George Harrison, of the rock group The Beatles, invited a couple of San Francisco club members to London. In fact, many musicians have held an affinity for the Hells Angels, and they're often hired as security at concerts. Eventually the club grew to most states and 30 or more countries, fueled by the alluring imagery of devil-may-care outlaws