Texas shootout brings attention to motorcycle gang culture in DC region

Biker gangs are an issue not just in Texas, but around the country, including the D.C. metro area.

Many people think of biker gangs as something from the past, but these gangs are alive and thriving as we saw in the Waco, Texas shootout.

One northern Virginia man who is deep into the motorcycle culture said these organized criminals are not afraid to kill anyone to protect their turf.

While 99 percent of people in the motorcycle community ride for the sport and camaraderie, the one percent is in a category of their own.

The deadly shooting between rival biker gangs in Texas captured headlines over the weekend, but those familiar with the motorcycle world say this type of criminal activity happens all the time.

"They're actually here in the northern Virginia area or in the Washington D.C. Metro area," said Zurriane Bennett, a former police officer, self-defense instructor and an avid motorcyclist. "They actually have a motorcycle gang task force."

He said the motorcycle world is a culture of its own with ongoing rivalries.

"You always got scruffs and grapples going on between organizations," said Bennett. "Here in the East Coast, you don't hear about it that much. In the Washington D.C. area, there's a bunch of issues going on right here in this area with clubs coming in and trying to take over other clubs."

Drugs, prostitution, gambling and turf wars are all part of what motorcyclists call the "one percenters." The gangs like the ones in the Texas shootout are an example.

"The one percenters are basically the people who have totally brought in the overall motorcycle culture to themselves, as in they look at the code of ethics for motorcycles, they're looking at the principles and all of those things that apply to being in a motorcycle club and that's their life," Bennett said.

And they expect other motorcyclists, even everyday citizens, to respect that culture.

Bennett even wrote the book, Positive Self Defense For Motorcycle Riders – What you need to know to protect yourself on the road.

"In the one percenter world, the way that they see it, if you're going to ride a bike, if you're going to be part of the motorcycle world, then you need to know the culture, because again, it's their world," he said.

Over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of motorcyclists descend upon Washington D.C. for the annual Rolling Thunder ride.

Event organizers said they are not concerned about rival gangs in this annual rally and all the motorcyclists come to raise awareness about prisoners of war and troops missing in action.

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