Charlottetown — Hells Angels, the notorious biker gang, have joined forces with New Brunswick-based Bacchus Motorcycle Club to put a stop to drug abuse and violence in Atlantic Canada.
The gangs are riding around the Maritimes to speak in schools about the dangers of drug addiction and equip teens with the skills to prevent domestic abuse. Some are volunteering in local soup kitchens. Others are donating at Canadian Blood Services centres. Some are manning the phones at MADD Canada. Many are giving their time to homeless shelters. Some are holding bake sales at local churches. Still more are helping old ladies cross streets.
While both groups are typically associated with drug rings, thefts, robberies, assaults, murders, increasing home insurance costs and widespread fear, they’re now aiming to dispel the most commonly held myths surrounding biker gangs.
“When people think of the Hells Angels or Bacchus, they don’t think of all the uplifting aspects of our organizations,” said Matt Power, a heavily tattooed Hells Angels spokesperson. “So we’re infiltrating the Maritimes to start to break down some of the negative stereotypes about elusive biker gangs. Unfortunately the media has been spreading lies about our motives, saying we’re buying out drug dealers and threatening them with beatings, and lots of other nasty rumours. It’s a shame that people still have some very backward notions about what the Hells Angels are all about.”
Bacchus ringleader Butch Marlow said Islanders especially need to learn not to judge a book by its cover.
“We’re here not to intimidate, but to educate; we’ve moved in on P.E.I. not to cause problems, but to find solutions,” explained Marlow. “We considered simply staying in our hometown of Saint John, but when we heard about P.E.I.’s growing drug culture, we knew we had to step up and do some good in the world.
“And we’re illustrating a point, here — just because we’ve ruined lives and communities in the past, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll continue to do so in the future. Personally, I believe in second chances and clean slates. Just something for people to think about.”
RCMP Const. Ron Versloot said at first he was wary of the known organized criminals setting up shop in the Atlantic provinces, but after witnessing some of their good deeds, he’s sure there’s nothing to worry about.
“I walked fully armed into a biker bar and saw a gang of outlaw-looking tough guys, and I’ll admit I was pretty quick to judge,” recalled Versloot. “I sat down and ordered a beer and when the bartender brought it over, he said one of those very outlaws had paid for it. Well, we all got to talking, one thing led to another, and they gave me an honourary Hells Angels membership!
“And don’t I look friggin’ cool in this jacket?!” he asked, showing off the black leather with trademark Angels logo. “Admit it — I look cool.”