12 December 2021, 8:00am
Media Release

Decline of the brotherhood

Opinion Editorial by AFP Commander National Anti-Gang Squad Andrew Donoghoe

In 1984, two outlaw motorcycle gangs waged a deadly war in the carpark of the Viking Tavern in the Sydney suburb of Milperra.

When the smoke cleared, seven people were found shot dead, including an innocent 14-year-old girl who was selling raffle tickets at a family barbecue-market day when she was shot in the face.

In 2012, two members of opposing outlaw motorcycle gangs unexpectedly met each other at the Robina Town Centre on the Gold Coast.

Terrified shoppers scattered as one of the bikies drew a firearm and opened fire on his rival in the crowded shopping centre, hitting his target and an innocent bystander. Queensland Police later revealed in court another innocent child came close to being murdered in the melee.

Just two years later in 2014, a brutal bikie brawl between two rival clubs in the driveway of a home in Sydney's west left an innocent bystander in hospital with a fractured skull and a cut to the back of his head.

The fight started when six men arrived in two cars at the front of a house in Parramatta. As soon as they stepped out of their cars, the gangs began punching and kicking each other, with a 50cm metal pole being used as a weapon.

A passer-by, who happened to be walking past the house when the fight began, was chased down the street and hit in the back of the head.

Outlaw motorcycle gangs have long been a serious threat to members of the public who go innocently about their daily activities.

Law enforcement have never been fooled by the romanticised view that they exist primarily to provide a club for the motorcycle loving “one percent” of society that answer to no-one and follow no rules – nor have we ever confused bikies with bikers. 

There are members of motorcycle clubs who congregate to enjoy a common passion – the liberating and lawful pastime of motorbike riding – but these people are not who I am talking about.

I am talking about those self-identifying as “one percenters” who do not act as law-abiding citizens, those who wear costumes in gangs who pose a significant threat to the Australian community. And those who are manufacturing and selling methamphetamine to our kids, destroying families, and shooting up our streets and shopping centres.

A recent study by the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Queensland Police Service involving interviews with former gang members, shows that the changing culture within outlaw motorcycle gangs is leaving a sour taste in the mouths of the older generation of bikies. It also shows the “brotherhood” is dead and buried.

With the growing influence of the new generation of bikies, the so-called “Nike Bikies” - young gang members who are more interested in expensive sneakers and hair gel, than motorcycles - any notion of brotherhood, camaraderie and loyalty amongst a club is long gone.

The former, more traditional bikies who were interviewed say the Nike Bikies do not join clubs because of their love of motorcycles and their desire to belong – they join in pursuit of their own self-interests and material gain while showing little interest in the more traditional club activities. Many of these young thugs don’t even own a motorcycle, let alone being able to ride one. 

Loyalty within clubs has been eroded by greed– where once a member was a member for life, it is now commonplace for members to switch clubs or patch over to enhance their own status or capitalise on illicit money-making opportunities.

The new generation of bikies have no concept of being your brother’s keeper with one former bikie saying the attitude of modern outlaw motorcycle gangs is, “they don’t give two stuffs about you, all they want is your money”.

Another former gang member described their former club as a ‘pyramid scheme so the people up the top can exploit’.

The former members say they felt disposable with clubs abandoning their members when they become an inconvenience or were no longer financially productive such as when they were hospitalised or arrested – “It’s only a brotherhood if you do what you’re told.  It’s not real”.

The recent high profile AFP-led Operation Ironside shone a very bright spotlight on the usually secretive and dark inner workings of outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Where once it was members of the general public who would come to harm if they were seen as an impediment or even an observer to the gangs illicit activities – now it’s the gang members themselves and their families who are at risk as club members turn on each other.

So much for the brotherhood.

While Hollywood falsely glamorises the lifestyle of outlaw motorcycle gangs, with shows such as Sons of Anarchy, in reality, these clubs are nothing more than criminal groups filled with individuals who are status-driven and profit-motivated, willing to turn on their own when it suits their individual agendas.

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