by Geraldo Rivera | May 18, 2015
Erica, Sol and I had a wonderful time in Atlantic City Saturday night attending a terrific concert Tony Orlando put on at the Borgata Hotel, which unlike much of the rest of the New Jersey shore side resort city is thriving. As is his custom, during his show Tony honored veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam all the way to Afghanistan and Iraq.
As I wrote Sunday, we were very proud that my friend of 40 years also gave me his Yellow Ribbon Medal of Freedom award during the show honoring my work as a combat correspondent. It was a wonderful gesture. Sol was especially impressed by what Tony said about my work, at one point looking at me and saying, “Daddy I love you.” Tony is a show business icon with a good and generous heart. He’s a true patriot and I’m proud to be his friend.
New Jersey Turnpike
We left the Borgata about noontime, driving up the Garden State to the Jersey Turnpike, but the air conditioner on Erica’s Range Rover wasn’t working. Sunday was an unseasonably hot day so we had the windows open. When we got to the stretch of highway by the Meadowlands, by Giant Stadium and that awful Xanadu the unfinished pink elephant amusement park there was this rolling sound of motorcycles.
And about ten bikes in close formation came roaring past us. They had the cutoff motorcycle gang denim jackets and those Nazi looking helmets. They were speeding up and slowing down, and changing lanes. It was intentionally very disruptive. Erica looked at me with a worried expression. I speeded up and put some distance between us, mindful of that incident back in 2013 when a gang of bikers on the West Side Highway critically injured a guy driving exactly the same Range Rover we were in. A bunch of the bikers were convicted of assault and now New York has different rules to regulate motorcycle rallies.
I’ve ridden motorcycles my whole adult life up until last year when I dumped my Harley in a minor accident in Fort Lee New Jersey. But the reason I’m bringing up the incident on the Turnpike Sunday is what happened that same day in Waco Texas.
At least nine rival bikers are dead, 18 others are wounded, 100 weapons are seized and about 170 bikers under arrest there after a gunfight broke out between rival motorcycle gangs and cops.
It happened at a joint called Twin Peaks, which is a kind of glorified titty bar and started with one of those ‘what are you looking at?’ stare downs in the Men’s Room. Then the shooting started, civilians were terrified and cops arrived in force.
The 170 under arrest have been charged with organized criminal conspiracy, and my guess is that many of them already have criminal records, usually for drug dealing, but also for more serious crimes. State and Federal RICO (organized crime) statutes have been used to gut many of these gangs in recent years.
The Waco bunch were hardcore bikers in the tradition of the old Outlaws, Pagans, Mongols, Bandidos and Hell's Angels. But my point is that when you put a bunch of folks together on motorcycles, whether we’re talking about that crew on the West Side Highway two years ago or even that bunch on the Turnpike yesterday, they change. They made be accountants or flight attendants or social studies teachers in real life, but once they mount up, they swell and become tough guys.
It's been 62 years since Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin terrorized a small town in 'The Wild Ones'. Isn't it time to pass some state laws that if more than say half dozen bikers decide to hit the public roads as a group they should be required to get parade permits just like every other rally.