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Bloodbath & Beyond: The roots and effects of a biker shootout

Postcard Bloodbath & Beyond by Alan Jacobs Harper s Magazine


Biker gang” is the usual shorthand, but they call themselves “motorcycle clubs.” The best known in Texas is the Bandidos, or, formally, Bandidos Motorcycle Club. There are about 2,400 Bandidos around the world, but Texas is where they’re famous, and dominant. They have a long history of extreme violence, but like their Californian counterparts, the Hells Angels—with whom they’ve had their share of clashes over the decades—they claim to have become somewhat domesticated, even bureaucratized, over time. They get regular counsel from lawyers who are themselves motorcycle enthusiasts. They belong to a national organization of like-minded groups called the Confederation of Clubs. According to one of those biking lawyers, William A. Smith, of Dallas, chapters of the Confederation meet fairly regularly to discuss “motorcycle safety and awareness” as well as to socialize. Many of them bring along their wives or girlfriends, who call themselves PBOLs: Proud Bandido Old Ladies.

Waco is a perfect location for regional chapters of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents to meet: ninety minutes south of Dallas, two hours north of Austin, and three hours or so from both Houston and San Antonio. And Twin Peaks is just off the interstate, offering easy access for all concerned. Jay Patel, operating partner of the Waco franchise, seems to have seen in these meetings a windfall for his newly opened restaurant. He had already established a weekly Bike Night for local club members, but a chapter meeting is a much bigger deal: a couple of hundred bikers and companions can drink many gallons of beer and eat mountains of Buffalo wings. So when the Confederation approached him about holding a chapter meeting there, Patel agreed.

The potential trouble involved the Cossacks and their bottom rockers. The Cossacks, a comparatively small and new club, have for some years now been operating in Texas more or less by permission from the Bandidos, to whom they have paid a regular tribute (“dues”) for the privilege. But the Cossacks don’t want to pay tribute any more. They want to be independent operators in Texas, which is where the bottom rockers come in. Most bikers wear leather vests with the name of their club across the top and the name of the state in which they operate along the bottom. When the Cossacks started wearing bottom rockers reading “TEXAS,” the Bandidos grew very, very unhappy. But the Cossacks were committed: either the Bandidos would acknowledge their legitimacy and independence or there would be fights.

Stashed in: Texas

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Ah Texas never disappoints. 

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