One of the significant challenges that faced law enforcement during the late 20th century was outlaw motorcycle gangs.
The Pagans were founded locally and were among the most formidable outlaw biker gangs. They were among the 1% of all known motorcycle clubs, which caused problems and were criminals.
I remember so well, one of the challenges that the Fairfax County Police and other police departments in The Washington D.C. area faced throughout the late 1950s through the 1980s was the outlaw motorcycle gang Pagans.
The club was formed by Lou Dobkin in 1957 and officially organized in 1958. Initially, located they were in Prince Georges County, Maryland, across the Potomac River from Fairfax County. The group started out wearing denim jackets with embroidered insignia.
Originally, they were a “brotherhood” of 13 motorcyclists. In the 1960s, the Pagans adopted a formal constitution and formed a governing structure. They chose a national president who was paid the same amount as the President of The United States, which was about $1,000,000 yearly. This gesture was called a “show of class.”
The Pagans were non-violent until 1965. The Pagans grew in members who put them on course to become an outlaw motorcycle gang (O.M.G.). The cause of their change in status occurred after a semantic gesture happened following a motorcycle race in Maryland.
“The 1% of motorcyclists who caused problems” was front-page headline news in local newspapers. The Pagans then both invented and adopted the 1%er patch, referencing newspaper articles. Most other O.M.G.s quickly adopted this 1%er patch.
With ties to other organized groups, the Pagans quickly became dominant in the Mid-Atlantic region, especially in Fairfax County and surrounding areas. They were involved in drug smuggling and many other illegal drug violations. The Pagans were involved in assaults, arson, extortion, motorcycle/car theft, and weapons trafficking.
We stayed busy focusing our attention on them and their criminal activities. With John “Satan,” Marron’s leadership, the Pagans grew to nearly 5000 members. Their top echelon of leadership was always 13 in number.
The initiations into these outlaw gangs varied but were brutal and degrading in many ways. Sexual activities are usually involved. Probably the most common method of initiation was the classic “beatdown” (aka being “jumped on”). It involved the wannabe gangster fighting a specific number of the gang’s members for a certain amount of time.
The wannabe must withstand the beating as well as fight back. Members were required to make a more dedicated commitment than to their marriage or job. They swear to look after their brothers’ health and safety and the whole gang itself.
Most gangs have a variation of this method, including “The Line.” Candidates are kicked and punched as they walk between two lines of gang members.
The candidate must make it to the end of the line while still on his feet. If he doesn’t, he can try again on another day when his bruises and wounds have healed. These initiations have been fatal.
A member’s denim jacket was the “badge of membership honor.” These jackets were the object of the personal filth of other gang members during initiations.
Most importantly, the jacket was never be washed or cleaned. These were the colors, and this made them what they were. The member was disgraced if this ever happened.
Women were referred to as the “property” of the male members. As part of their classification as property, women occasionally played significant roles. Investigations into the inner workings of the Pagan organization found that even though women were below dogs in the member hierarchy, they were involved with trafficking drugs and essential information.
Gang members wear their “sacred” patches with honor on their denim jackets. They could have hundreds of meanings in addition to their symbols. Here are a few common logos in addition to their meanings.
1% — As previously stated, this patch identifies outlaw motorcycle gangs.
13 – This can symbolize the letter M which might indicate several meanings, including motorcycle, marijuana, methamphetamine, or possibly a secret sense only proven to the gang members. It may also mean “12 jurors and a judge”, which symbolizes that nobody can judge them. We are our judge and jurors.
9er – Symbolizes that this member has Native American blood since the 9th letter of the alphabet is I.
Ace of Spades – It is a symbol for the bringer of death. It implies the member is willing to kill for the gang, or perhaps he has already.
Bad Influence – Demonstrates a member is a mad man.
Flags – Enable you to denote the gang’s location or origin.
ITCOB – An acronym for “I Took Care of Business.”
MC or MCC – An abbreviation for “Motorcycle Cycle Club.”
Men of Mayhem – Badges or pins directed at members who have killed inside the gang’s name.
Nomad – Used on the lower rocket denoting a person of no particular address. Just one or two can genuinely live to this specific title.
Skull and Crossbones – This patch means “Respect Few, Fear None.” In some instances, the crossbones are replaced by swords. It may also reveal that the member has killed someone for his gang.
Swastika and Nazi symbols – These do not mean that the gangsters are Nazi; instead, they demonstrate that they can reject society’s policies.
Wings – usually used to show achievements. They might sometimes hold personal meaning and may be considered jokes. Red Wings, Green Wings, and Yellow identify different unnatural actions with a woman.
666 – Patch worn on an outlaw member’s colors, or tattoo, symbolizing Satan’s mark.
The Pagans were indeed a challenge to law enforcement in Fairfax County. Keeping in mind the sacred status of a gangster’s colors, never to be cleaned, I provided the following instructions to my officers. If the officer had cause to arrest a Pagan, the gangster was probably carrying a concealed weapon under his colors. I directed the officer to put on issued gloves for protection at various scenes. The officer was instructed to take the Pagan’s colors (his jacket) for evidence in concealing a weapon and take it to the cleaners for cleaning, and I would pay the bill. That Pagan was then disgraced and no longer a part of the club.
Today, the Pagans remain one of the fiercest outlaw gangs in America, with 900 members and 44 Chapters.