What Does Nomad Mean In Motorcycle Clubs – When the FBI fined Mongol – one of the most feared motorcycle clubs in our country – $500,000 last month, it seemed like a pat on the back for self-proclaimed outlaws.
After all, Mongolians can do what many bankers, lawyers, and investors do when they’re in trouble – create a legal cigarette screen, declare bankruptcy, close, and start another business.
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Even after the high tax levied by the Santa Ana federal court, the Mongols’ motto remains: “Bigger, better, stronger!”
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To separate myth from reality, I recently met a few members at Cook’s Corner, a popular motorcycle hangout at the base of Saddleback Mountain.
In a series of discussions, phone and text conversations, and some practical research, I learned that Mongolia has much more to offer than news reports and court hearings can provide.
On the one hand, there is patriotism. Most Mongolians may have tattoos from their knuckles to their necks, but they are the ones who go ahead and volunteer for military service, risking their lives while the rest of us are on our smartphones.
On the other hand, there is something more difficult to define. It’s called brotherhood. But understand that this bromance is not about fist bumping and yelling, “Yo, bro!”
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Lumpy and Johnnysinz are two members of the Orange County Chapter of the Mongolian Motorcycle Club. The club held a rally at its Los Angeles headquarters on Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Photo: Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)
It’s midday at Cook’s Corner, and before you have time to grab a coffee or a beer, you pass a fleet of gleaming motorcycles.
I approached some brave men wearing vests with “Mongol” stitched on the back in big bold letters. But I felt comfortable right away.
A few years ago, I joined thousands of veterans on motorcycles for a 3,500-mile ride across the United States in an event called “Run for the Great Wall” to honor our fallen. While most of the veterans were older and perhaps weaker than this Mongol, the big man on the big motorcycle looked alike, in fact, sort of.
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They appreciate what it means to ride on the open road, know what it’s like to witness the horrors of war, and understand the pain of watching helplessly as a partner bleeds.
Zak Barefoot introduced himself with a firm handshake and an ever-present smile, and no matter what the world threw at him, he looked worse.
Barefoot shared that he was 29 years old, lived in Orange County, made a living as a barber (providing straight razors) and served 8 years in the Marine Corps.
While Barefoot goes by his real name, Big Johnnysinz is more discreet. The 32-year-old, who has silver under her right eye, only revealed her nickname for unknown reasons. Despite this, he allowed himself four years of military service.
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Johnnysinz glanced down, then looked into my eyes, even describing part of his connection to the Mongols as “therapy”.
Orange County Mongolian “Johnnysinz” (left) and “Lumpy” ride through Trabuco Canyon on Saturday, June 15. (Photo: Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)
Harley Street Bob black Johnnysinz gleamed nearby, sharing the experience of his parents immigrating to the United States from Yugoslavia.
Mom worked at a grocery store and Dad paid the bills by learning to do whatever was needed, from a mechanic to a computer technician.
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“They gave up their whole lives for a better future,” he said, “and when they came to America, they got it.”
After high school, Johnnysinz explained, he decided to pay back his parents’ success by enlisting in the military.
After enlisting in the army in 2006, command staff in Germany told Johnny Hinz one day that his friend from high school was being rushed to the same base for treatment after being seriously injured in Iraq.
After completing his mission, Johnnysinz came home feeling restless, disconnected, frustrated and disappointed. He quickly grew tired of people complaining about problems that seemed trivial compared to what some of his fellow soldiers faced.
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“Everyone follows their own path,” Johnnysinz offered, trying not to judge. Still, he admits he feels most comfortable with other veterans, and that the Mongooses provide a veteran family.
Barefoot tells a similar story. The son of a Marine, he received special recognition for leading a 350-foot patrol in Afghanistan in 13 months. After the 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, he volunteered to help evacuate refugees.
“Some people think they’re too good for other people,” Barefoot allows. But that was not the case for the veteran, and certainly not when he was dealing with the Mongols.
“That boy helped me a lot,” the Marine said. “When I was lucky, they helped me pay the rent.
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The modern Mongols were born in Montebello in 1969, and the club’s website is relentless about its origins and vision.
“It’s a way of life, a culture and a way of life for brothers and sisters, riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles through the streets of East Los Angeles to show strength and unity.
“Most of the recruits are Vietnam veterans … and used to the discipline, methodical program of honor, loyalty, respect and camaraderie. This makes them a force to be reckoned with.”
Within a decade, there were chapters in the San Gabriel Valley and San Fernando, Long Beach and Bakersfield. Furthermore, there were even – and still are – Mongolian chapters in countries such as Germany, Australia, Thailand, and more.
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But as the club continues to grow, it either lost its way with some bad apples, or it was always intentionally involved in something very heavy and very problematic.
On April 27, 2002, Mongol and Hells Angels fought in a casino in Laughlin, Nevada. One Mongol was killed, two angels died and dozens were injured.
Ultimately, seven angels and six Mongols were charged. However, the result almost killed the club.
In a covert operation called “Black Rain”, run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, undercover agents managed to climb the ranks of the Mongolian organization for two years.
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When Black Rain was shut down in 2008, dozens of members had been arrested and 110 arrest warrants had been issued. Several Mongolians confessed to the racketeering, including the club president who was soon kicked out of the club.
More legal action followed when prosecutors declared that Mongol was a criminal enterprise and members distributed drugs, attempted and committed murder, they had to pay a fine of $1 million.
A Mongolian cyclist has the club’s logo on his arm. The logo depicts Genghis Khan wearing glasses. On March 24, 2019, the Mongols held a rally at their headquarters in Los Angeles. (Photo: Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)
Perhaps even more damaging, prosecutors also argued that the logo of a cartoon Mongolian man riding a motorcycle with a hood and sunglasses was essential to the club’s identity and should be banned.
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However, just a few weeks ago, federal judge David O. Carter halved the fine to $500,000 and ruled that the logo is protected by the First Amendment.
However, the Mongols were deeply frustrated. The club’s main lawyer, Stephen Stubbs, blamed any mistakes on the previous chairman and claimed times had changed.
“Current members who have nothing to do with any of the alleged conduct,” Stubbs said, “will be responsible for paying the fine.”
Barefoot, also known as “Getsome,” was a wrestler and football player in high school and still has a round-chested, muscular body.
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As Barefoot explains, the streets of Mongolia are no different from mainstream motorcycle clubs. There are small unofficial rides and larger club sanctioned rides. On Sundays, small groups often gather for barbecues. Every now and then, there are big gatherings, which can include rides to Las Vegas, arm wrestling, and pool tug-of-war.
Still, it’s clear from the conversations, photos and videos that the vibe is very different from “Running to the Wall” or its older brother “Rolling Thunder,” where nearly a million veterans were discharged over Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C. Military members. ride a motorcycle to pay respect to the brothers and sisters.
Barefoot agrees, “We are part of the 1% club that lives outside normal society. We have our own rules and we live freely”.
Details Johnnysinz. “Ultimately, the truth about our club is that we are hard-working, Harley-loving, friendly people.”
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“We are not bowing down, we are not backing down, we are standing up for each other and our belief systems.
David Whiting is an award-winning subway columnist for The Orange County Register. He can also be heard on the radio, has been a TV news anchor, and is a frequent speaker at organizations and universities. She previously served as assistant managing editor and received Columbia University’s Race and Ethnicity Award, the National Headliner Award, and the Sigma Delta Chi Public Service Award. He was recently invited to participate in an exchange program with Chinese journalists. he
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