A week ago, a Hells Angel Motorcycle Club patch holder named William “Spook” Sosebee was convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping, possession of a knife during a violent crime and first-degree assault and battery for stabbing a member of another motorcycle club. The victim is named Jim Moye and this happened in a bar in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Rock Hill is about 20 miles south Charlotte, North Carolina.
A member of the Red Devils Motorcycle Club named Timothy David Hill was found not guilty of similar charges. Sosebee was sentenced to 10 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
Moye obviously wandered into the wrong bar. It was a place called Wall Bangers and it is popular with Hells Angels and friends of that club. According to official documents, Sosebee walked over Moye, hit him in the head with the butt of a Bowie knife and told him to take off his cut. When Moye refused Sosebee stabbed Moye in the stomach. None of the men involved in the altercation are exactly juvenile delinquents. Sosebee and Moye are both 58. Hill is 45.
Moye refused to implicate Sosebee. He told police “it was a motorcycle thing.” Witnesses in the bar fingered Sosebee and Hill to police.
This particular patch pulling is noteworthy because Moye is a member of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club. The Iron Order was founded in Kentucky in 2004 and has chapters in 42 states. The club wears a black-on-white three piece patch, accepts sworn peace officers as members and has developed a reputation as a cop club.
In an interview in 2010, the Los Angeles chapter President said, “Yes we do wear a three piece patch and our colors are black on white. The reason for our colors dates back to the start of the Iron Order. When the original eight members kicked around the idea of colors, and after trying to follow protocol with the existing MCs, the decision was made that the center patch, the Jughead (skull) only looked the best in black and white. So black on white it was. We are in every sense a traditional MC and follow all traditional protocols. We ride and we party and take care of our brothers. In fact, our brothers are put before our personal needs. We wear a California bottom rocker, as does each state’s chapter, as well as chapters outside the US. This only signifies the state we are from.”
The spokesman denied that any members of his chapter were police. “However, for future reference, we do not disclose any information about any brothers, period!” The club allows women to ride with them but not to patch. They don’t admit anyone who has ever been convicted of a felony. They do not tolerate marijuana use. They do not require members to own an American motorcycle. They claim to be “the largest independent motorcycle club in the world.” The club seems to exist almost completely apart from other motorcycle clubs but insists “we are a real motorcycle club.”
Something Is Happening Here
Both the Iron Order and the Sons of Anarchy may be pointing toward a new social phenomenon.
Last September, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “Authorities say that the soaring popularity of the Sons of Anarchy TV show – the most-watched in FX’s history – could be contributing to a disturbing trend: Weekend warriors, no longer content to simply ride together, are forming small motorcycle clubs and dabbling in the outlaw lifestyle.”
It is debatable whether the Inquirer knows what it is talking about but it is certain that the Harley-Davidson Motor Company has spent the last 30 years turning “the outlaw lifestyle” into a commodity. Sons of Anarchy is part of that commoditization. So is the merchandise, like ersatz colors, that the FX show promotes. And none of this probably disturbs anybody very much unless they work for Gangland or the ATF.
So Let’s Be Philosophical
But the patch pulling in South Carolina opens a Pandora’s box of fundamental questions like where did we come from, who are we and where are we going?
If the Iron Order is a real motorcycle club who is to say that the Sons of Anarchy is not? How long before some tipsy outlaw demands the surrender of the SAMCRO cut some fan bought on eBay? Or, how long before a representative of the show demands that the fan give it up because the cut is not “authorized merchandise?” What is the difference? And, will the television fan give up his “colors?”
Is there strange humor in this? Will it be funny when a couple of television actors put on their costumes and decide to take over a biker bar? Will it be funny when they get stabbed? Will Jax and Clay adhere to the code of biker omerta? And when this happens, will it be a publicity stunt for the television show? Will it be a fake stabbing or a real one? And, will their assailants end up going to prison? And if they do, will it still all be funny then?