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10 Facts About The Hells Angels That Make Us Want To Ride With Them

Despite being labeled as outlaws and a threat, the Hells Angels have many unique and redeeming qualities that make us want to ride with them.

The Hells Angels are one of the largest and most notorious outlaw motorcycle clubs in not just America, but around the world, as well. Because of their intimidating size and disregard for the rules, the US Government labeled them dangerous. But with numerous pop culture references to this iconic motorcycle gang, as well as movies and tv shows such as Sons of Anarchy based on them, the question on everyone’s mind has always been: “are the Hells Angels criminals or simple bikers?”

Is law enforcement persecuting them and are the accusations founded? Bad reputation follows the HA and it has followed the international organization for decades. Since 1965, after the Monterey rape case which happened one year earlier.

The bikers involved in the accusations were dismissed because there wasn’t enough evidence. Still, after Monterey, the Hells Angels are officially a threat to society. Are they just misunderstood? Here are 10 facts about the HA that make us want to ride with them.

10The Rejection Of The American Dream

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The Hells Angels were born from veterans who had just returned home from World War II. They were fighters and soldiers who found themselves back into a society they didn’t recognize. Suddenly, they had to pay the mortgage, rent a house, and find a job.

With the Hells Angels, the soldiers and veterans found their community again. They recognized each other and they were in their element. The bikes made them feel free and the speed made them feel rebels. In the organization, they found their fit.

9Their Brotherhood Has A Strict Code

Honor, respect, and discipline. The Hells Angels have a code that members can’t break. If someone doesn’t want to adhere to their rules, they are out. The bikers are brothers and the members become a big, tight family.  The members can always count on each other.

Respect: respect the other bikers even when you don’t agree. Discipline might surprise people who consider them outlaws and rebels. Members of the Hells Angels must agree to the code to stay in the community.

8 Not Everyone Can Be An Hells Angels

While the organization is large and international, being a part of it isn’t easy. At first, aspiring members have to “hang-around,” attending the club’s events and parties. At this stage, the biker is an aspiring HA. If the members of the community like the person, the next status is the “associate.” An associate is still a maybe, but it is a declaration of interest from the organization.

Associates then turn into “prospects,” during which the person can participate in the club’s activities but without voting privileges. A successful ending of the vetting process leads to a “full member.” Now, the person is officially a Hells Angel, able to wear the patch, the “death head” logo, and the club’s location on the lower rocker.

 

7Dear Mister President

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The Hells Angels aren’t just veterans and soldiers; they are proud Americans. The Vietnam War (1955-1975) threw the United States into chaos. People were protesting the war, chanting angry slogans, and confronting the police. In California, where the Hells Angels were born, people burned their draft cards and they marched with a black coffin. The Hells Angels weren’t among them. Being veterans and patriots, they didn’t protest the war. Instead, they petitioned President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Picture courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

“Dear Mister President, I volunteer a group of loyal Americans for behind the line duty in Vietnam,” wrote HA leader Sonny Barger.

6Pop Culture Loves Them

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The Hells Angels didn’t look for notoriety. They didn’t want to be popular: they just wanted to ride their bikes. Still, their reputation of outlaws and criminals attracted the public. The media fed people stories and images of men with long hair, riding fast and free.

Picture courtesy of History Channel

People loved it and soon, Hollywood picked up on that. The first HA-themed movie was Hells Angels On Wheels in 1967, directed by Richard Rush and starring Jack Nicholson. Two years later, Lee Madden directed Hell’s Angels, starring Conny Van Dyke. Recently, the HA were the protagonists  Outlaw Chronicles: Hells Angels, a documentary and TV series

5They Honor Their Fallen

Picture courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

Once a Hells Angel, always a Hells Angel. The Vancouver chapter holds the Screwy Ride, to remember comrade Dave (Screwy) Swartz, who was killed in Surrey on April 6th, 1988. In Woodbridge, Ontario, 200 members of the organization escorted the coffin of murdered Mississauga Hells Angel Michael (Diaz) Deabaitua-

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In San Josè, the Hells Angels commemorated and saluted the U.S. Marine honor guard Steve Tausan, paying their respect to the member. The Hells Angels might have a bad reputation, but once a member, always a member.

4The Incident: The Rolling Stones

Often, the Hells Angels are hired as security and bodyguards at events. The most famous one was the 1969 Rolling Stone concert, which ended up in chaos. During the concert in Altamont, California, riots erupted and chaos ensued.
Picture courtesy of Anonymous/AP/Shutterstock

In the violence, Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death and images seemed to point to HA member Alan Passaro. He was cleared of all charges in 1971, when the courts decided it was self-defense. Even now, 40 years later, the waters around the event are still muddy. The media has always blamed the Hells Angles, but Hunter had a gun and he fired it in the air. There are two sides to any story.

3They Are Big In Social Work

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The Hells Angels have a famous saying: “When we do right, no one remembers. When we do wrong, no one forgets.” The members of the organization raise money for charities and they do food and toy drives. The Hells Angels of Long Island helped a local community-based thrift store checking out clients and helping them find toys.

 

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In Southeastern Virginia, the bikers donated $12,058.72 and three truckloads of food to the local food bank. In the city of Imperia, Italy, the local HA chapters organized the Benefit Run for the non-profit, children-focused Casa Famiglia Pollicino. The Hells Angels often get an unfair reputation, biased by the media.

2They Are The One Percenter

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Outlaw motorcycle clubs are also known as the “one percenter,” 1%er.The origin of the term is unsure, but the most probable one comes from an interview. When HA member was asked a sensitive question about the organization’s reputation, he answered: “Don’t ask me any more questions, I am 1% away of giving zero

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The One Percenter reflects the HA’s philosophy of rebellion and freedom. The bikers are free spirits who don’t want to conform. They are different and they are proud of it.

1The Waco Shootout: Not The HA Fault

In the list of the Hells Angel’s misdeeds and crime, there is often the 2015 Waco shootout in Texas. It happened during a gathering of different organizations, discussing political rights for motorcyclists. Police were outside the restaurant to monitor the situation. The reason behind the shootout is still unsure, but nine bikers were killed, 18 others wounded or injured.

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The police and the bikers were shooting in the deadliest accident in the area since 1993. The biker gangs inside the restaurant were the Cossacks and the Bandidos. The Hells Angels weren’t involved.

Many accusations have been moved to the Hells Angels and some were founded, while others ended up in nothing. People posted bail or were discharged, while other HA members were found guilty.

Except, every community has its outlaws and criminals. Every society has its flaws and qualities. The Hells Angels included.

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