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Sunday, 16 November 2008

There's going to be violence between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws regardless of the trial

"We're just here to support our guys," Charles "Pee Wee" Goldsmith, a Hells Angel from Nevada, said last week. Many of the Hells Angels present for the trial declined to give interviews.
The Hells Angels and Outlaws will continue their nationwide fight for territory after they leave South Dakota, said Steve Cook, president of the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association. "There's going to be violence between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws regardless of the trial," Cook said.The bloody, nationwide war includes one battle in Indiana where hammers and motorcycle parts were used as weapons, a lawyer for the two bikers on trial told jurors this week.
As many as two dozen Hells Angels have been in court at various times during the trial of John Midmore, 35, of Valparaiso, Ind., and Chad Wilson, 33, of Lynnwood, Wash. Jurors this week are expected to begin deliberating the fate of the men. They are accused of opening fire on a group of Outlaws, creating panic among bystanders who ran into a nearby lake to escape the gun battle.At least a half-dozen Hells Angels began arriving at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel as early as Nov. 9, where they spent time visiting in the lobby and relaxing in the deep end of the Splash-Tacular Indoor WaterPark. Thursday evening, several members of the group dined at Carnaval Brazilian Grill on South Carolyn Avenue.
Five rows on the defense half of the courtroom were filled with Hells Angels last week. Their jackets, which they were not allowed to wear inside the courtroom, indicated that they came from California, British Columbia and Luxembourg.Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said local, state and federal law enforcement agencies agreed on a security plan while the trial is ongoing and looked to other communities with experience with motorcycle gangs for guidance."We did look at other places where trials have been held with Hells Angels and other outlaw motorcycle gangs as defendants in the U.S. and Canada. ... The consensus we came to as a group is we have the appropriate security in place," Milstead said.He said security is focused in several directions. "Some of that has to do with the actual courtroom. Some has to do with the courthouse. Some has to do with our community."So far, there have been no incidents with gang members, the sheriff said. "They understand there is a significant presence of law enforcement officials here for the trial."
While having Hells Angels in Sioux Falls might be unusual, Milstead said local law enforcement has some experience with motorcycle gangs."We don't normally have Hells Angels in Sioux Falls, but we have had other members of motorcycle gangs that live here," Milstead said.Security has been heavy throughout the trial. Officers have been posted throughout the courthouse, in the neighboring administration building and on the streets. And spectators must pass through two security checks: one on the first floor and another on the sixth, where the trial is being held.Waged over the turf on which to conduct criminal enterprises such as money laundering and drug trafficking, the ongoing war between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws is a key part of the defense in the Sioux Falls trial.
Defense lawyer David Kenner mentioned it in previous court filings and again Friday as he opened his case.In July 2006, law officers met with Hells Angels leaders attending a bike rally in Cody, Wyo., and warned them of possible attacks by the Outlaws, Kenner claimed in court documents filed in a related case.Federal court documents from Michigan and Massachusetts also chronicle the ongoing feud between the rival motorcycle clubs.At least two of the Outlaws who were at the shooting scene in Custer State Park, Danny Neace and Leroy Frasier, are under a federal indictment in Michigan. They are accused of conspiring to attack various Hells Angels in Indiana. That matter is scheduled for a pretrial conference Monday in Detroit.Kenner spoke about that case as he began his defense Friday. At a fair in Indiana, he said, a group of Outlaws — including Neace — attacked Hells Angels with a cane, hammer and motorcycle parts despite the presence of law enforcement and the general public.He said that earlier violence contributed to Wilson's feelings of fear and his desire to use his gun to protect himself and Midmore.
"They, like federal prosecutors ... knew about the rivalry and escalating violence and attacks on Hells Angels," Kenner said.Nationally, the Hells Angels have 2,000 to 2,500 members in more than 230 chapters worldwide, according to an April 2008 U.S. attorney general's report to Congress. There are Hells Angels chapters in 27 states, the report says.The Outlaws have more than 1,700 members in 176 chapters worldwide, including 12 foreign countries, the attorney general's report states. The Outlaws have chapters in 21 states, according to the report.Both groups have gone high-tech. In court Friday, the defense used a computer animation video to show the crime scene. Both groups also maintain Web sites. The Hells Angels' official site uses Google News to display current news articles about the group.Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin agreed that there will be continued violence. "They're like oil and water somewhat," Merwin said. "They're always going to be at odds."Much of the violence is spontaneous, and it can happen anywhere Hells Angels and Outlaws gather."It can happen wherever," Sturgis Police Chief Jim Bush said. "It's a very unstable situation with those folks."Law officers in Arkansas have been planning security measures for an upcoming trial of six Hells Angels accused of using a bat and knives to attack members of the Bandidos in the Ozarks tourist town of Eureka Springs.The trial is expected to take place next year, and officials have been discussing plans for extra officers at the courthouse, Eureka Springs Police Chief Earl Hyatt said.
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