Four Iron Horsemen made the mistake of riding through Rhode Island last Friday on their way from Kentucky to a club party in Maine.
The four were stopped in Warwick on Interstate 95, the major north-south freeway on the East Coast. Police told the four men they were stopped “because of the turf battle going on between two other clubs.” Police told the Iron Horsemen “they were just wanting to keep an eye on who is coming in and out of Rhode Island.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been telling police for almost two years that a “war” between members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and the American Outlaws Association is either imminent or simmering in Rhode Island. According to ATF Intelligence Analyst Jeremy Sheetz, there is a growing “problem” of “Outlaws expansion in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.” According to Sheetz, two Outlaws attacked three Phantom Lords on August 18, 2014. On November 1, of the year, “approximately” five Hells Angels attacked an Outlaw with bats and brass knuckles at an Outlaw clubhouse. On November 13, an Outlaw’s motorcycle was “torched” in front of an Outlaw clubhouse. On December 3, a vehicle belonging to a former Outlaws spouse was set on fire.”
Rhode Island began overreacting a year ago. In September 2015, police arrested three Outlaws for the crime of driving through the state. At the time, a Rhode Island State Police Major named Joseph Philbin told a Providence television station: “The Outlaws are one the of biggest motorcycle clubs or gangs in the country, and the fact that they are establishing a presence in Rhode Island is alarming to us because sometimes they can bring forth some violence and criminal activity.” “New England is considered to belong to the Hells Angels.” “The Hells Angels have had a presence in Rhode Island as long as I’ve been on the state police, the last 20 to 25 years. So the fact that the Outlaws are trying to maintain or create a presence here could create a problem.” Philbin learned what he thinks he knows from the ATF. The words and ideas are the ATF’s.
The ATF thinks the establishment of an Outlaws clubhouse in Woonsocket in 2014 marked the start of the next Great Nordic Biker War.
Nineteen days ago, “WPRI 12 Eyewitness News” in Providence reported, “Law enforcement officials are concerned a feud between two outlaw motorcycle clubs in Rhode Island is a tinderbox on the verge of exploding into a violent turf war. In June, the Rhode Island State Police organized a meeting between 13 local police departments as well as representatives from the Massachusetts and Connecticut state police amidst growing tensions between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws motorcycle clubs.”
Rhode Island Hello
The four Iron Horsemen, whose names are Robert Frayer, Michael Matteson, Jerry Palmer and Steven Overby stumbled into this public hysteria because I-95 is part of the shortest route to Maine. They were later accused of careless driving but none of them was ever issued a traffic ticket. Three of the men were wearing unconcealed knives and were charged with possessing Weapons other than Firearms. One man was charged with possessing the anti-seizure medicine Clonazepam. Another was charged with possessing methamphetamine. Without bothering to establish probable cause, police pried open a locked saddlebag and found two pistols inside. That rider was arrested for possessing a firearm without a license.
All four men were released on $10,000 bonds. Since there was no reasonable articulable suspicion for the initial stop – like specific traffic charges – and since police didn’t bother to establish probable cause before they conducted their warrantless searches, the charges against the men will probably be eventually dismissed.
But all four had to pay a bondsmen and all four will have to hire lawyers. All four have an initial hearing on September 28.
In announcing this victory in the ongoing war against motorcycle clubs, Rhode Island State Police Superintendant Col. Steven G. O’Donnell said, “I commend the Troopers for their attention to detail in seizing firearms and contraband. With the current climate and ongoing disputes between rival Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs in our region, these arrests may have prevented some violence.”
That is how Rhode Island says “hello” to bikers.
“Our biggest mistake,” one of the men told The Aging Rebel, “was not knowing about the Rhode Island witch hunt going on or we would’ve avoided that state, I promise”