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Sons of Anarchy Meet Amity of Jaws

20 Jun 2012
A motorcycle club named Mongols, with a reputation as serious as its name, began its invasion of a small town today. Its actions proved its tactics to be more in line with the pacifist anti-war and anti-nuclear groups of the 1970s than with the Sons of Anarchy - at least for now. Five days from now we will know the full truth.

Boulder City is a small tourist/retirement town of fifteen thousand about ten miles outside Las Vegas. Boulder City was created as the new home for workers building the Boulder Dam a few miles away - as it was known until 1947, when its name was changed to Hoover Dam. It's a sleepy little town that deliberately limits the amount of business growth it allows, and makes up the shortfall of revenue with proceeds from the country's largest solar power plant.

So when the Boulder City police chief was approached by a fourth-generation resident, an attorney representing the Mongols on behalf of an upcoming national convention of the group's memberhip, it presented a law enforcement challenge. The Mongols expect up to 400 members, family and friends; the Boulder City police number 36. As you guess, they have called for help.

But the Mongols are no fools. They stand on the shoulders of many who have gone before them - many who have been beaten or killed by riotous, rampaging police. Plenty of us still remember the bloody street riots of the 1960s; plenty of us remember Chicago in 1968, where the entire police department went completely insane, beating senseless the student anti-war protesters.

By the 1970s, those of us who had inherited the movements and built some of our own - such as the successful anti-nuclear protest movement - looked for and found a better way: Communication. We would send a leadership team to our target community, inform the police of the event so they would have no fears or worries about our intentions - making it so much easier for them to relax and stay peaceful - and train the protesters in tactics of non-violence. Amazing, it actually worked. Until recently, with a new generation of technology, no nuclear power plants have been built in this country since that decade.

Communication. As I told one of the Mongols at the Boulder City town hall meeting last night, communication is the basis for all trust. They were smart and did the right thing, approaching the police through legal channels. These are men who demand respect; with these actions, they earned it.

Neither the police nor the townspeople are worried about trouble from the Mongols group. What they are worried about is the presence of a Hells Angels contingent only a few miles down the road. In 2002 some HAs attacked some Mongols at a casino in Laughlin, about 100 miles south of Las Vegas: three bikers died that day. More recent was a fight in a Las Vegas wedding chapel in 2008. No one wants a repeat of those events. And though the HAs have reportedly vowed to the Mongols to stay away, no one in law enforcement is taking them at their word. They are watching, and ready. Nellis Air Force Base, the world's leading drone aircraft command center, is only twenty miles away. If any Hell's Angels head out for Boulder City, I think they'll be spotted.

This fear was a counterpoint to the shopkeepers' obvious desire for the extra business the Mongols will bring. They've rented an entire motel, party room, and private lot. Wives will want to shop. Several ladies who spoke at the town hall were practically begging the club members to come to their restaurants! It reminds one a lot of the early scenes of the Amity shopkeepers in Jaws, more worried about loss of business than of a shark chomping on their young-uns. This time, though, concerns of safety seem well in hand. We've learned a lot since the 1960s.

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