By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
The day before this meeting, the club had finally won its first major victory in the war over property seized during the raids. Superior Court Judge Stephen Gerst, finding that the police had no probable cause to seize motorcycles, ordered that the bikes be given back to all members not facing criminal charges.
Over two days, members had been allowed to enter the DPS impound yard on South 16th Street to reclaim their bikes. Cynthia Gonzales, a young lawyer working with attorney Joel Thompson on the seizure cases, escorted the bikers separately into the lot, helping them through the paperwork and hoops demanded by the DPS before it would return the bikes it had illegally seized.
They had to put up with snide comments from DPS Sergeant Bob Hopper, who did not seem happy at all to be giving the vehicles back, and then they rolled the machines outside the gate to inspect the damage.
After seven months parked in the weather, the bikes were in sorry shape--seats cracked, metal rusted, gaskets rotted away. It was a bittersweet day for the owners, to whom polishing and grooming their machines are parts of an almost daily ritual.
Still, it was a step. Although most of the bikes were not yet ready to ride, the meeting on this Friday is more upbeat than most have been recently.
Old business includes an analysis of the most recent run to Lake Havasu and Laughlin, Nevada. Before next year, members decide, they'll have to get square with the Nevada police on helmet laws in that state.
New business becomes a bizarre group-therapy session. It seems Deadeye didn't make the trip because his bike was not running. Pisshead and Bumper call him on it, demanding to know why he did not accept club offers to help him repair the bike.
"It's hard for me to ask. I don't like to ask for nothing," Deadeye says.
"We're here to help you. We are your brothers. Understand that or get the fuck out," Bumper responds.
Deadeye is not disciplined. Instead, he is given two weeks to get his Harley fixed.
There being no other new business, the Cave Creek chapter adjourns to the Driftwood bar on Cave Creek Road, where it meets up with members from other chapters.
On the sidewalk outside the bar stands Skitz, a Phoenix chapter member. At one time, it would seem, the 39-year-old man must have had a fairly high IQ. Now, after years of sniffing paint fumes and indulging in drugs, he is the club's idiot savant, and its self-described spiritual leader.
Not even he can recall exactly how his alphabet became so badly scrambled, Skitz says. "It would be foolish for me to say I haven't sustained any damage from the paint fumes," is the explanation he offers.
Skitz views the club's troubles from a different perch than his colleagues. "I haven't heard anyone equate this with the social ethnic cleansing in Sarajevo yet," he says. "I really see in my mind a real similarity. It's like in the biblical days, when the scribes would take the Scriptures and add in later verses."
Having made his point, Skitz enters the bar and rejoins the brain trust of the state's most powerful and violent biker gang.