Washblog

Seattle Biker Cop Shoots Hell's Angel At Sturgis Rally?

An off-duty Seattle police officer and apparent member of the "Iron Pigs MC" motorcycle club (I'll have more on them in the comments) appears to have been the first person in almost 20 years to commit a shooting in Sturgis, SD during the biker Rally. Read the Post-Intelligencer story here

The police chief of Sturgis, Jim Bush, was interviewed on KIRO and I found it ironic. I actually interviewed him after the Seattle police caused the WTO debacle.

He was not a fan of their methods.

After night after night hearing the Seattle police drone on and on about how they had done everything right, but that the job was too big, I got absolutely sick of it.

I knew there were police departments that handled far bigger rallies with far more troublesome people an handled them far better. Who better to talk to, I reasoned, than the police chief of Sturgis, South Dakota, upon which nearly a half-million bikers descend each year?

Chief Jim Bush is a direct and plain-spoken person who is sensible and open to questions. I asked him about his methods for dealing with crowds. He outlined an approach that was essentially opposite in every important respect from the way the Seattle police dealt handled WTO.

He refused to critique Seattle police directly as I knew he would, saying only that he wished he had as many officers as they had for such a relatively small crowd as we had during the WTO. Instead, we discussed specific policing techniques. When I asked him if he put the police under his command in armor or riot gear, he scoffed. He didn't even allow them to wear their usual uniforms, badges and decorations. He wanted them "low key" in "summer" uniforms his department had come up with for the rally that were more like bicycle cop or security guard garb.

When I asked him if he set up security cordons, he scoffed again, saying that he asked his officers to interact with people in the crowds, making friends and constantly gathering a sense of what was going on.

When I asked him whether he felt it was too dangerous to send officers into the crowd in the event of an incident (as you'll remember Norm Stamper did during WTO and Kerlikowske did during Mardi Gras) Bush said to the contrary he had his officers move in as quickly and quietly as possible at the very first sign of a disturbance.

When I asked him whether he felt it was necessary to keep troublemaking groups away from his town's big event he started to realize that he must be criticizing the Seattle police de facto. It was clear from  my questions that they were not using his good sense tactics.

He said "well, we don't have anybody coming here deliberately to make trouble."

I said "Really? Not even the one-percenter motorcycle clubs like the Angels, Pagans, Outlaws  and Bandidos?"

He realized that these organizations were just a wee bit more threatening than a few kids from Eugene dressed in black. He said "well, we talk to those guys and make it clear we won't tolerate any trouble."

"Talk to those guys" - that was his very effective approach to handling groups of men so dangerous the FBI considers them organized crime syndicates.

But Chief Bush did get tough with the bikers in one way - "Weapons - we don't allow 'em during the Rally. If we see a guy with a weapon, we will take him in. If we get word one of these fellas might be coming in with a weapon, we might turn his whole group back before they get into town."

Well, apparently a Seattle police officer thought he knew better how to defend his fellow citizens at the "Loud American Roadhouse" in Sturgis. Apparently the Seattle police have once again failed to show good judgment and professional conduct.

Oh, with, of course, the help of the President and Republican Congress who gave us, in 2004, H.R. 218, the "Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act" which exempts qualified active and retired law enforcement officers from State laws that prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms.

Including, it seems, when they are acting in their capacity as drunk bikers. But do expect this officer to get some sort of award from his union - or the local Bandidos chapter, or maybe both.

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Chief Sturgis?  Do you have a link to an article on the off-duty cop shooting the biker?

by noemie maxwell on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 09:22:12 AM PST

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Looking at the Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club's web sites - which the group seems to be busy cleaning up - I noticed some coded language that is significant and should be explained.

The Iron Pigs are a club that wears biker "colors" -  the denim or leather vests that sport various kinds of patches with symbology significant to the club and biker culture generally.

The main patch on the back is often a "three piece" patch, with the top "rocker" being the name of the MC, the middle patch being their symbol and the bottom "rocker" being the name of a state or city.

The significance of the bottom "rocker" - the place name is that dominant outlaw MC in an area will often try to forbid the wearing of the name of a place they dominate.

I venture a guess that most people around are at least somewhat familiar with the Bandidos MC - one of the largest outlaw clubs in the world. Although it came to be headquartered here in Bellingham, Washington, the Bandidos started in Texas and have apparently been very jealous about guarding the "Texas" "bottom rocker" for their group and affiliated groups.

But the Iron Pigs have 21 chapters in Texas and say this about their colors:

We wear three piece colors because we can. We are not a 1% club. Our top rocker states IRON PIGS, that's who we are. The center patch is our logo, an IRON PIG surrounded by fire. Our bottom rocker is the state we are from. This club will always have three piece colors. We will not ask permission of anyone to wear that bottom rocker. Always remember 'These Colors Don't Run'. 'You Cut One We All Bleed'. Attack one brother and you will answer to a national club of brothers.

Furthermore, on the groups main website, the Iron Pigs refer to themselves the "Iron Pigs MC Nation".

The word "Nation" is very significant. It is the term the Bandidos use to refer to their club: "Bandidos MC Nation".

What this verbiage constitutes is a direct provocation of outlaw MCs such as the Bandidos who would challenge the Iron Pigs' "right" to wear a place name on their colors.

If it is not a provocation, then the verbiage - particularly the use of the word "Nation" - would carry the semantical suggestion that the Iron Pigs might ally themselves in some way with the Bandidos - whose arch rival MC is, of course, the Hell's Angels - the MC of the man apparently shot by the off-duty Seattle biker cop in Sturgis.

There has been speculation that since the arrest of the leader of the Bandidos in Bellingham along with much of the top leadership, there would be a power vacuum in the outlaw biker world. Therefore, it might be that a "bottom rocker" indicating Washington state (which the Bandidos lately dominated) might invite negative attention from Hell's Angels.

by dlaw on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 02:30:24 PM PST

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