News from Hells Angels MC Baltimore
|Headline: Hells Angels depart Cody
|Monday - 07/31/2006
|Referrer: Billings Gazette
|By RUFFIN PREVOST
Gazette Wyoming Bureau
Portugal rumored for club's next World Run
A Hells Angels member from Arizona checks traffic Friday evening before pulling onto Sheridan Avenue in Cody. Hundreds of bikers were in town for the group's World Run.
CODY, Wyo. - If the rumors are true, Park County law enforcement leaders might want to start brushing up on their Portugese.
Following the completion of a peaceful and relatively quiet Hells Angels World Run, Portugal has been mentioned as a possible location for next year's event. Which means local law enforcement can expect plenty of inquiries from Portugese cops seeking advice.
Throughout the day Sunday, bikers and police were headed home, and were expected to continue filtering out of Cody over the next day.
Around 1,500 Hells Angels were in town for the event, according to Lee Haines, a law enforcement spokesman. Haines said that count would make it the largest such gathering held in the Western Hemisphere. The biker count was based on "intelligence estimates," Haines said. He said he was unsure of the exact method used in making the estimate. Club members told The Gazette around 800 members were present.
Police, press and city officials plan to meet later this week for a wrap-up session on the event.
No arrests over weekend
Despite busy Friday and Saturday nights that saw large crowds in downtown Cody and at the Park County Fair in Powell, there were no arrests involving Hells Angels members, according to Lee Haines, a spokesman for law enforcement.
"This is what our plan was designed to accomplish - public safety at a very busy, crowded time," said Park County Sheriff Scott Steward.
Powell Police Chief Tim Feathers agreed.
"We planned for the worst, and so far things are peaceful," he said. "We adjusted our operation based on the needs of our communities, and the activity we've seen over the past few days. The adjustments appear to be working."
Cody Police Chief Perry Rockvam said he was pleased with the results of the law enforcement team's efforts.
"We listened to residents' concerns about too large a police presence and reduced our visibility, but we were still able to ensure the public was safe and the entire area was peaceful."
Credit given Hells Angels
Rockvam gave credit to the Hells Angels, who did an effective job of ensuring their members were careful not to break the law, he said.
"It has helped for us to be able to communicate directly with a Hells Angels contact so we can share concerns and solve issues together," he said.
"I think that it was a pretty good time," said George Christie, president of the club's Ventura, Calif., chapter, who had been speaking with law enforcement leading up to and during the event.
"I think we had some initial problems, but I think Chief Rockvam took care of them," he said.
"I understand that when we travel, we drag a reputation along with us, and it sometimes creates an atmosphere that becomes tense," said Christie. "It's usually always tense when you come into a town, but the chief handled it professionally, and all the local officers did."
Christie said he was initially mostly concerned about aggressive tactics employed by Wyoming Highway Patrol officers.
But heavy surveillance and active law enforcement are nothing new to Hells Angels members, he said, and Cody was no different than other places they had been.
"Some of it's necessary, and some of it's unnecessary," he said. "It gives the town just an idea of what we go through in our daily lives. But I'm not complaining. I've chosen this lifestyle and wouldn't want it any other way. It comes with the territory.
"The thing that balances it out is you go downtown and meet local people and they're gracious and excited to have you here," said Christie. "They're asking us about our lifestyle and we're learning about theirs. That's what I find interesting. It keeps me coming back for more."
Christie said he and his family "went to the museum, walked around town and saw the gunfight, went shopping and went to dinner at the Irma. We had a great time."
Regarding the rumors of Portugal as the destination for next year's World Run, Christie said, "I don't work on the committee that picks the spot, so at this point, it's just rumors."
Legal troubles for Hells Angels members were relatively sparse last week.
They included a conviction against Christie's son, George Christie III, for misdemeanor marijuana possession, as well as three other misdemeanor convictions, and a felony drug charge for which the defendant has yet to enter a plea.
"What can I say about all that?" the elder Christie said last week. "We're Hells Angels, not monks."