In 2012, Channel 10 ran a mini series, Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms. It was based on Sandra Harvey and Lindsay’s book of the same name. It chronicled one of the most infamous crimes in Australian history – the Father’s Day Milperra Massacre.
Loyalty was everything
‘Patched’ members (full member of a gang with logo emblazoned on their jackets and vests), were expected to be loyal to the club. Anyone who was kicked out, or chose to leave a bikie club had to leave the lifestyle altogether.
Broken loyalty has been proven to have deadly consequences. It was a major factor in the Milperra Massacre between the Commancheros and Australia’s first chapter of the Bandidos.
On Thursday (10 January 2019), Melbourne’s Herald Sun did an interesting article on why men join motorcycle gangs and how they’ve changed over the decades.
Who are most likely to join motorcycle gangs and why?
Former police officer and co – author, Duncan McNab offered some insight into the personalities and backgrounds of would – be motorcycycle gang members. These included a rough childhood and involvement in juvenile crime. I couldn’t help but notice that the formerr gang member that was interviewed, Steve Utah, also killed his brother’s pet mouse when he was around eleven, (animal cruelty in childhood, can be a warning sign of an anti- social personality disorder in adulthood.
Traditionally, men who have wanted to join motorcycle gangs do so for the loyalty and brotherhood. While some men still seek commeraderie, motorcycle gangs have been more interested in businesses including prostitution, illicit drugs and tattoo parlours. The battle over illegal drug trade has seen extreme violence between rival gangs.
Content/ trigger warning: this part of the post mentions extreme violence and may be distressing or triggering to readers. Please proceed with caution.
While Australia or other countries haven’t seen an event like the Milperrra Massacre again, bikie clubs around the world have been embroiled in fierce violence.
These acts of violence include, shootings, affray (brawling) and acts of torture resulting in death. The biggest change from the seventies and eighties is that rather than loyalty, money is a major cause for much of the brutal violence.
Reactions from governments and law enforcement
Governments have tried to crack down on motorcycle gangs. In 2013, former Queensland Premier introduced a number of State laws that placed restrictions that limited the way bikies move and meet.
While the laws passed, the Newman Government recieved opposition from the Labor opposition leader, Annastacia Palaszczuk and human rights groups. Bob Katter requested amendments to protect law – abiding bikies, but the suggestions were rejected.
In 2017, the ACT introduced laws that gave police investigating bikie – related crimes more powers. Under the laws, a property where an alleged drive – by shooting or bombing had ocurred, police could declare the private property a crime scene without a warrant or cooperation from people involved.
Has the war on bikies been won?
Going by the article I talked about above, the answer is arguably no. They’re still
In 2015, Terry Goldsworthy wrote a skeptical analysis in The Conversation. He argued that there was a lack of consensus on what ‘success’ meant in combatting bikie – related crime. Healso pointed out that, in fact, most bike club members are not involved inncrime. According to Australian Crime Commission data from 2014, less than half (40%) of bikie club members have a criminal record.
While I don’t downplay crimes that bikies have been involved in, it doesn’t seem ro be the motive for many of them. Maybe the brotherhood and comraderie that men are craving is still a major factor.