Ride Into The 70’s With Me
The 1970’s Regents-Motorcycle Club Series takes place in a very turbulent era of the United States’ history News media often portrays the 1960s and 1970s as an era of peace and innocence compared to our current events. Well, those of us who were around back then remember things very differently. The changes that happened to our Motorcycle Clubs in the 1960s and 1970s were a direct result of those times, which were anything but innocent.
Social revolution heated up in the 1960s in this country, with young people taking to the streets. They protested the draft, the war, politics, and race. By the 1970s, these street protesters had organized into groups, and splintered into extreme factions with their own violent agendas. The Symbionese Liberation Army, best known for deliberately kidnapping publishing heiress Patricia Hearst to insure media coverage, also committed murders of citizens, bank robberies and other violence for the Black Revolution (per their manifesto).
The Weatherman Underground carried out the first domestic terrorism campaign in the U.S.. Their actions included riots, bombing government buildings, and prison breaks, including that of LSD guru Timothy Leary.
From RAM, many other black power groups evolved. Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver endorsed guerilla warfare and the rape of white women as revenge against the white male. In his book, he admitted “practicing” on black women in the ghetto, then moving “across the tracks” to prey on white women.
And of course, the FBI manipulated and contributed to the violence. As an example, the FBI sent an anonymous letter to the leader of the Blackstone Rangers, a Chicago radical Islamic group, claiming that the Panthers were threatening his life. Similar action was taken to intensify a gang war between the Black Panther Party and a group called the US Organization, which led to beatings, torture, and several deaths. FBI agents claimed credit for instigating the violence between the two groups.
Skyjackings from almost every US airport to Cuba became commonplace, usually by a fugitive or self-styled revolutionary who mistakenly thought Castro’s Havana would be a better place to live. There were 69 successful skyjackings from 1968 to 1973. Unsuccessful skyjackings usually meant the pilots were killed, or the plane ran out of fuel with all aboard falling to their deaths into the sea.
The 1970s were also the deadliest decade in law enforcement history, when a total of 2,276 officers died.
And that was just here in the US. In 1972, we all witnessed the Munich Massacre at the Olympics, when members of the Israeli Olympic Team were taken hostage by the Black September group. By the time it ended, eleven Israeli athletes and coaches, and one German police officer, were murdered by the terrorist group.
In Ireland, 479 people died in The Troubles in 1972, more than in any other year of the conflict.
In Brescia, Italy, the Piazza Della Loggia bombing in May 1974 killed 8 people and wounded over 90. In August of that same year, a bomb exploded in a passenger car of the Rome-Brenner express train, killing 12 and injuring 44.
In Great Britain, pub bombings occurred on a regular basis. In 1974-1975, London was subject to a 14-month bombing and shootings campaign. Some 40 explosions rocked the capital, leaving 35 people dead and many more injured
As you can see, Violence and Terrorism did not start on September 11.
Drug use also exploded during this time. Acid, pot, speed, downers, cocaine and heroin were in their heyday. There was something for everybody, from hippies to housewives to corporate executives. The problem had accelerated so quickly that law enforcement couldn’t keep up, and were fighting each other across their own bureaucratic lines for power.
President Nixon was ultimately responsible for the creation of a single federal agency to coordinate the government’s drug control activities: the DEA. This happened in July 1973, and stepped up the drug war to a new level of violence, in America and overseas.
In the middle of all this, the American motorcycle clubs were expanding. The biker lifestyle attracted veterans returning from the hell-holes of the Viet Nam War. These young men had become adrenalin junkies from combat and constantly living in fear minute to minute. They had learned to kill at an instant’s notice to stay alive themselves, and carried shrapnel and bone fragments under their own skin from friends blown to pieces beside them.
After surviving the worst kind of modern warfare, these men made it home, only to be condemned by those who hid behind college deferments.
Abandoned by the politicians who sent them to Viet Nam in the first place, unable to fit back in to normal family life, these men found a place among the brotherhood of kindred spirits in America’s motorcycle clubs.
With this new influx of members, the motorcycle clubs were constantly starting up new chapters across America. This in turn caused serious conflict between the motorcycle clubs as everyone tried to expand their territory. All of the larger clubs, not just the 1%er clubs, were involved in these wars.
To wear a 1%er club patch meant your life was on the line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Every single time you rode your motorcycle away from your club house, you never knew if you would run into a situation that could cost your patch, your motorcycle or even your life. The rivalry meant men were getting shot, stabbed, blown up and severely beaten on a regular basis.
At each Club House, the walls were covered with “trophies”: patches from other clubs pulled and hung upside down in disrespect. Hardly any of the 1%er Clubs got along, and got along with very few of the others.
The motto each 1%er club lived by was: “If you ain’t in my club, you ain’t shit.” And “We are the best, fuck the rest.”
The adrenalin rush of constantly living on the edge was addictive. Add to this the ongoing partying, the drug high, the elated feeling you got from riding with a bunch of your 1%er brothers just like you, who put their life on the line every time they put on their patch, with only each other to rely on—this is the Club as Joe Wilson knew it in 1971.