Spearfish unfazed by Hells AngelsResidents say they’re not bothered by infamous club.
By: AP, The Associated Press
SPEARFISH — More than 400 Hells Angels are in Spearfish this week, and residents say they’re not bothered by the presence of the infamous motorcycle club.
To Leland Ruzica, who owns the Back Porch bar in Spearfish and is friends with several Angels, they are customers like any others who want to relax and see the sights.
“It’s definitely going to be a boost,” Ruzica said. “Any time you get a lot of visitors in town, it’s a boost to business.”
The Angels are holding their USA Run, which is akin to a club business meeting, in Spearfish. The bikers are staying in motels and campgrounds throughout the western South Dakota city of about 10,000 residents.
Mistie Caldwell, director of the tourism organization Visit Spearfish, said its visitors’ center has been staffed to handle any influx of new requests. Spearfish Mayor Jerry Krambeck said he hoped residents would treat the Angels with respect, as they would any other group.
The community is used to an influx of motorcyclists for the annual, and much larger, motorcycle rally in nearby Sturgis, Krambeck said.
“Spearfish and the surrounding Black Hills is basically a destination point for motorcyclists, whether it’s a club event or the (Sturgis) rally,” he said.
Spearfish Police Lt. Curt Jacobs said the department hopes it won’t have to confront incidents similar to a brawl between members of the Angels and a rival gang, the Mongols, in a Laughlin, Nev., casino a decade ago during a rally in that city.
Dozens of Hells Angels members were arrested and several were killed across the country last year in turf wars between the Angels and other gangs. The U.S. Department of Justice says the Hells Angels have as many as 2,500 members in 230 chapters in 26 countries, and are a major source of drug trafficking.
Extra law enforcement personnel, including six U.S. marshals, are helping local authorities during the Spearfish gathering.
“The best would be that they come here and they have a nice time with their meetings and they visit the Black Hills, and then they head home,” Jacobs said. He is expecting as many as 600 Angels and another 400 to 600 family members and support groups, he said.