There are apparently hundreds of one-percenter Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs (OMCs) across the globe, but 5 gangs reign supreme.
To answer this question we harken back to post-WWII (July 21st, 1947 to be exact). Life magazine ran what has been categorized as a sensationalist article about an event that later became known as the Hollister Riot. Using a staged photograph of a drunk biker, double-fisting (beers) and sitting atop his Harley-Davidson while surrounded by a heap of broken bottles on the ground, the title of the story read, “Cyclist’s Holiday: He and Friends Terrorize Town.”
In actuality the event was the AMA-sanctioned annual Gypsy Tour race, which was the top motorcycle racing and gathering event for decades across America. Coveting the influx of business, Hollister residents happily welcomed 4000 bikers and on-lookers for the 3 day festival with the understanding that people would get drunk and race motorcycles, but not necessarily in that order. Not unexpectedly, the California Highway Patrol was eventually called in to break up the party. There were no reports of locals being harmed, nor any property damage or looting, but newspapers and magazines ran headlines about riots and terrorism. Legend says that the AMA defended their biker clubs by saying 99 percent of them were law-abiding citizens, and “The trouble was caused by the one percent deviant that tarnishes the public image of both motorcycles and motorcyclists”. The term ‘one-percenter’ was born from this event and has come to be a catch-all name for biker clubs not sanctioned by the AMA due to criminal activities.
There are apparently hundreds of one-percenter Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs (OMCs) across the globe, but 5 gangs reign supreme. Depending on who you ask, the 1%er diamond badge can denote different criminal things, but there are groups dedicated to ending this moniker once and for all.
Big 5 + Hundreds More
The Big 5 OMCs are the Hells Angels, Bandidos, Mongols, Outlaws, and Pagans; all named so because of their wide-reaching power and influence. Structure varies from club to club, but generally, there’s a top tier hierarchy consisting of a president, VP, treasurer, secretary, road captain, and Sergeant-at-arms (enforcer). Women are considered property and cannot be members. Each club has chapters in different areas, cities, and even countries that can be called Support, Satellite or Regional clubs, but the 1%er diamond patch will only be worn by the dominant club in a territory.
All but the Outlaws club began their criminal activities post-WWII. Many former soldiers suffered from PTSD and were left traumatized by the horrors of the Nazi-Axis holocaust. They quickly learned their government wasn’t willing to help them try to integrate back into society, but that life in a biker gang offered the brotherhood camaraderie and organizational structure many missed since returning. Ironically, despite fighting against it in WWII, all but the Mongols have deep ties to white-supremacy hate groups like the KKK and Aryan Brotherhood. The Mongols were founded by non-caucasian bikers who were denied entry into the Angels because of their race, and have been fighting them ever since.
1% Of The 1%ers
The Department of Justice defines all OMCs as 1%ers, calling them tightly structured criminal organizations, “whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises“. George Knox, director of the National Gang Crime Research Center has stated that 1%ers are undoubtedly criminals who participate in drugs, theft, prostitution, and extortion. The FBI estimates the Angels make up to a billion dollars a year in illegal drug sales.
According to Bikers of America, 1%ers are actually just bikers who are 100% “committed to biking and brotherhood” and the ‘outlaw lifestyle’, but all within the confines of the law. Ironically they use a police analogy to make their point, claiming not all police are bad even if there are a few bad apples, just like not all 1%ers are criminals, even if a few are. On their website, you can also find a 100 page blog post explaining how to deal with ‘rats and snitches’.
The Outlaws MC website has a specially written article addressing the 1%er patch. They wrote, “We work, have families, and do all the things that our neighbors do. To say that 1%er’s are criminals or people of a lesser moral code than the rest of society is a tainted opinion. The Outlaws Motorcycle Club is not a criminal organization.” In 2010, a Virginia grand jury indicted 27 Outlaws members under the RICO act on various charges including assaults, kidnapping, drug dealing, illegal gambling, and attempted murder.
LEMC’s And The 99% Fight Back
The Harley Owners Group (HOG) was founded in 1983 and boasts over a million members to date. It turns out that these people are the true bike-loving aficionados who love riding in large groups as often as possible, but simultaneously remain normal law-abiding citizens. This group is 100% inclusive and sports a ‘Ride 365’ motto, unlike the Hell’s Angels motto, “3 people will keep a secret if 2 are dead”. Harley-Davidson is actively involved in promotion and sponsorship with the various world-wide HOG chapters as a means to change the perception of their bikes and who most often rides them.
it just gets worse from here on…