Hells Angels Living by the Code

David Bolden August 26, 2020 0
Hells Angels Living by the Code

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

The Hells Angels is one of the most well-known biker clubs in the world, and it all started with a group of motorcyclists in Fontana, California. Founded in 1948, the Hells Angels now has hundreds of international charters. Though certain members have been known to break the law, there’s one code of conduct they’ll always stick to: their own. From what they wear and drive to how they get in and stay in the club, these Hells Angels rules are no joke.

You Have To Be Voted Into The Group

On their website, the Hells Angels clearly state that if you have to ask how to get into a club then you “probably won’t understand the answer.” Becoming a member is a long process that can take years.

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That’s because once you join, you’re in for life. Cultivating a relationship with the other members of the charter takes time. The only thing that can determine if you’re truly ready to join is if the rest of the group votes you in.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Before You’re In,  “You’re a Prospect” 

According to investigative journalist Julian Sher, those looking to join a Hells Angel charter start as a “hang around.” As the name implies, hang arounds are bikers who get invited to some Hells Angels events so both parties can get a feel for one another.

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Before you’re officially a part of the group, you’re called a “prospect,” a name that gets stitched into your vest. These tentative members run errands that Sher describes as “gopher work.”

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

The easiest way to recognize a Hells Angel is by the insignia on their vest. When a prospect becomes a full-fledged member, they get a vest with the famous logo and name on the back. Julian Sher explains that these vests are considered sacred to members.

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If one of the bikers gets arrested, he’ll hand his vest to a fellow member to avoid tainting it in jail. If they get hurt and need an emergency procedure, they’ll do whatever possible to prevent the vest from being cut or torn off.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

They Have A Dress Code

The rules vary slightly from charter to charter, but there’s generally a dress code that members follow. One member told Inside The Angels that he could only wear black jeans, shirts, and vests when he joined.

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Some groups won’t even allow shorts! While some charters sport all black wear, some allow blue jeans and camouflage patterns. The color and design codes can help distinguish which charter you belong to and further establish that you’re a part of the group.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

There’s An Order That They Ride In

The Hells Angels biker groups can be quite large, taking up an entire street as they ride. What you may not have known is that there’s an order that they maintain while riding. The road captain and charter president remain at the front of the group.

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From there, the bikers align based on seniority and rank. The older members will stay closer to the front, followed by newer members and ending with prospects in the back.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

They All Pull Over Together

Since the Hells Angels have a particular order to maintain, if one of them gets pulled over by a cop, they all stop. Sticking together not only helps keep everyone in their place, but also signifies how the brotherhood is linked like family.

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If you mess with one Hells Angel, you mess with them all. People are not too likely to start trouble with a huge mass of bikers around who have a history of being tough.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

They Can’t Work For A Prison

Given the Hells Angels’ history with law enforcement, it’s no wonder that they aren’t allowed to work for a prison while in the group. Members also cannot be police officers due to the conflict of interest.

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Hells Angels have been known to engage in criminal activity at times. The group stands for freedom in the sense that they run by their own rules, so prison guards and law enforcement officers wouldn’t exactly fit in with the crowd.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

You Can’t Share Information About Fellow Members

Another reason Hells Angels can’t be in law enforcement is because the group has a strict discretionary policy. If a member were to rat out a fellow brother, they could expect to get kicked out of the group.

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The Hells Angels website clearly states, “We do not answer questions about members,” not even missing ones. Their secrecy is meant to keep everyone in the group protected as they place loyalty to one another above all else.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Once A Hells Angel, Always A Hells Angel

Once you’re an official Hells Angel, there’s no backing out. Members don’t retire, and the only time they exit the group is if they’re kicked out for breaking a rule. Your charter essentially becomes a second family.

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The Hells Angels spend a ton of time together and members have already known one another for years by the time they join. When one of them passes away, everyone unites to honor the memory of their fallen brother.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

No Talking To The Media

Since the Hells Angels are very secretive in their activities, none of them are allowed to talk to the media. This not only protects the group as a whole but also helps enforce the rule that members don’t talk about one another.

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Investigator Julian Sher says members are forbidden from talking to others about their codes since it’s part of their security. By keeping as many things to themselves as possible, they mitigate the risk of information leaking.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Harleys Only

To be a Hells Angel, you don’t just need to be any biker; you need to be a very specific type of motorcyclist. As we’ve mentioned, the recruitment process can take years because they only accept those that are like family.

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One part of being the right kind of biker is owning a Harley Davidson. Riding only Harleys is a Hells Angels tradition that runs along the same lines as the sacred vest. It holds value because its a part of what makes them who they are.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

They Ride Thousands Of Miles A Year Together

According to their website, the Hells Angels ride around 20,000 kilometers together every year. That’s more than 12,000 miles! Members need to be true motorcycle fanatics to fit in, meaning that their bike is their top mode of transportation.

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While Hells Angels are like brothers, their connection is founded on their shared love of motorcycles. Riding is their outward expression of freedom and the closest they get to feeling completely liberated. As such, they’ll happily spend hours on the road.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Show Up To Club Events

If you really take the Hells Angels way of life seriously, then the highlight of your day is attending one of their activities. Members who fail to show up to meetings and hangouts indicate to others that they are missing the point of the club.

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The biker brotherhood is known for having a strict attendance code. Those who continually miss events are seen as disrespectful and are not likely to make it past the “hanging around” phase of recruitment.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Members Are Like Family

A part of what makes Hells Angels so drawn to gatherings is that the members become like family. Not only do they get to do what they love by riding bikes, but they also get to do it with other people who feel the exact same way.

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Their passion runs much deeper than just excitement over motorcycles. Hells Angels is about a way of life, a belief system, that all of its members profoundly connect through.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Don’t Join Another Biker Club

The Hells Angels have a deep bond that is meant to last a lifetime. With that connection comes commitment, meaning that members shouldn’t even consider joining another biker club.

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Likewise, members need to be careful about who they associate with. The website warns, “Never combine your support to Hells Angels with other clubs, street gangs, or others if you are unaware of the relationship between those others and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.” In other words, anything members choose to support has to fit in with the group as a whole.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

It’s A Brotherhood, Not A Sisterhood

Hells Angels refers to itself as a brotherhood; thus, you’ll only see men with the death head insignias on their back. Though women aren’t technically in the club, they do play a major role in it.

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Many of the Hells Angels have wives and families. If he’s going to be a part of the crew, then his partner has to understand the commitment and be okay with the lifestyle and all that comes with it.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Not Just Anyone Can Start A Charter

As with joining a charter, creating one doesn’t just happen overnight. The Hells Angels website explains, “Motorcycle Clubs consist of people who have ridden together for years, live in the same area, are known by the community, have runs and parties, and are a brotherhood.”

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It takes years, even decades, to become that established. Only then would you consider morphing your group into a Hells Angels charter. That’s why the website states that when you’re ready to start a charter, you won’t have to ask how.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

You Don’t Want To Break The Rules

Breaking the Hells Angels rules puts members in a position they’ll strongly regret. Since the motor club is secretive and full of loyal participants, there’s no telling what will be done to someone who betrays the brotherhood.

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Investigator Julian Sher claims that the group has burned off the tattoos of past members who broke the rules. The worst form of punishment is being kicked out of the club, resulting in complete banishment from other members.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Don’t Question The Missing Apostrophe

Grammar nerds will have already noticed that Hells Angels is missing an apostrophe. Since the angels belong to hell, there should be a possessive apostrophe between “Hell” and “s.” The group is all about breaking the rules, so it’s fitting they don’t obey the grammar.

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Their website simply states, “Yes, we know there is an apostrophe missing but it is you who miss it. We don’t.” Plus, there was already a 1930 war film called Hell’s Angels when the biker club started.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Non-Members Can Buy Merchandise To Support The Club

Though members despise people who aren’t in the club wearing the Hells Angels insignia, there is merchandise fans can buy to support the group. Hells Angels has a support shop where non-members can show their appreciation for the bikers’ way of life.

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Members love getting the support because proceeds who to local charters. The more merchandise they sell, the more events that they can put on for fellow bikers and other community members to enjoy.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

You Have To Be Clean

Given their reputation as tough guys, you would think the Hells Angels wouldn’t be concerned about what substances its members use. The truth is the group is very strict about any members using illicit substances.

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Neville Elder/Corbis via Getty Images

The Toronto based charter of the club told The Star, “All ‘contact or use of [substances] is strictly forbidden’ as is the use of needles ‘for pleasure.’” The bottom line is this — stay clean or get kicked out of the club.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

You Can’t Link To Their Website Without Permission

Another rule about the Hells Angels that isn’t as surprising as it sounds is this — you cannot link to the club’s website without express written consent. Because of how protective the club is of its members, this rule makes complete sense.

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As the rule is written on their website, it reads, “You may not establish and/ or operate links to this website without the prior written consent of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. Such consent may be withdrawn at any time at the Hells Angels MCs own discretion.”

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Prospects Cannot Retaliate Against Hazing

Once you officially become a prospect to join the Hells Angels, there is one big rule you have to follow. You cannot, under any circumstances, retaliate against hazing. This is important because the process can often be a violent one.

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According to the club’s bylaws, this practice is not done to belittle potential members, but is instead seen as a test of their character. If you retaliate, you are not deemed worthy to continue the initiation process.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

While it is possible for supporters of the Hells Angels to buy merchandise, only club members are allowed to wear official merchandise. The club takes this rule as seriously as they do the patches on their vests.

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If you are caught wearing merchandise intended to impersonate the Hells Angels, you can expect retaliation. Just make sure that if you do plan to support the club, you are going through the proper channels!

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Patches Are Sacred

As members grow with the Hells Angels and rise through the ranks of the club, they are given patches. These patches are seen as sacred symbols and must be respected with the utmost care.

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The rules about protecting these sacred patches are so strict it is even rumored that Hells Angels members must refuse to let doctors cut through the patches if bodily trauma needs to be taken care of!

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Consent Is Required

Despite their tough reputation, it should be clear by now that the Hells Angels require members to show quite a bit of respect and restraint. This rule even applies to their interactions with women.

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Any member must get consent. Taking advantage of women is unacceptable and the club has a zero tolerance policy towards this behavior. Break that policy and a member will find themselves in a world of hurt!

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

They Don’t Talk About Missing Members

As respectful as the organization can seem, the Hells Angels are also very secretive and protective about its members. This protection even extends to anyone associated with the club who has gone missing.

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Members, as you know, are not allowed to talk to the media about members, but they also should not discuss other members with anyone not associated with the club. This not only protects the privacy of members, but it also protects them from law enforcement when necessary.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Some Charters Will Allow Non-Harleys Under One Condition

Across the Hells Angels organization, it is widely accepted that the only motorcycles members can ride are Harley Davidsons. We even wrote it as one of the rules earlier. While most charters abide by this rule, some will allow members to ride non-Harleys as long as their bikes are American made.

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One of the other acceptable bikes, according to some charters, are Buell Motorcycles, a brand that was originally established in Wisconsin in 1983.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

The Club Always Comes First

Once you join the Hells Angels, you are considered family, which means that no matter what else is going on in your life, the club comes first. Being a member means having voting rights and being an active participant in the club, and you are expected to value this above all else.

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Because it is a lifetime commitment, and even wives are expected to understand they come second to the club, you must fully embrace your new lifestyle. You won’t have time to join a yacht club any time soon.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Cultural Inclusivity Is Not Widely Accepted

As a club so rooted in rules and history, it is only recently that the Hells Angels have begun accepting more culturally diverse members to join. Throughout its lifespan, the club has been predominantly Caucasian, although it is not uncommon for those with Hispanic heritage to join.

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As far as other cultures go, acceptance again varies from charter to charter. Some have loosened their rules, while others have stayed rooted in the past.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Every Meeting Has Strict Rules

When club members gather for meetings, they still have to follow the rules. These guidelines are known as Robert’s Rules of Order. Invented in 1876, Robert’s Rules were initially designed for business meetings, but they have crossed over into Hell’s Angels.

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Robert’s Rules tell members how to hold a democratic meeting. They must stick to the agenda, interrupt only when necessary, and can raise questions before the assembly. If a Hell’s Angel breaks one of these rules, they may be fined $100.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

 

Prospects Do The “Dirty Work”

If you want to join Hells Angels, you’ll have to hang around them first. If you get noticed, you’ll become a prospect. Prospects have a trial run where they work with Hell’s Angels for a while before getting their vest. When a member of the gang doesn’t have the “Hell’s Angels” logo or color on their vest, they’re a prospect.

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Prospects pick up the dirty work that members don’t want to do. For example, they may set up the meeting room before other members arrive. After their “trial period,” prospects receive the Hell’s Angels logo on their vest, making them a full member.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Only One Group Can Control An Area

Certain groups in Hells Angels ride through specific areas. If one group has “claimed” that area, it’s theirs. No other gang can hang around that spot unless they’re driving through, even if they are also a part of Hells Angels.

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Hells Angels have known rivals from other motorcycle clubs such as the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. If a Hells Angels group hangs around an area, no other motorcycle group can try to claim it. In some cities, members of each group go to separate hospitals to not run into each other.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Hells Angels Run Charities

Although Hells Angels have the reputation of being a dangerous gang, they occasionally run charities. Every year, they hold a toy drive for Toys for Tots. One time, they donated 200 bikes to the Poverello House, a nonprofit organization that aids the homeless.

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Hells Angels frequently run motorcycle rides for charity, even letting other riders join. Even so, the members are aware that most people don’t know them for their charity. Their motto states: “When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets.”

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

They Respect People Who Respect Them

Don’t be afraid of talking to a Hells Angel. The members live by a code of respect; if you treat them well, they’ll treat you well. Journalists who have interviewed Hells Angels describe them as “inviting” and “incredibly welcoming.”

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Hells Angels are also known to help their neighbors with issues and occasionally aid strangers. If you treat the riders well, you’ll have no problem interacting with a Hells Angel. But if you treat them poorly, expect them to do the same.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

They Work As Concert Security

You may see some Hells Angels standing around at concerts. Don’t fret; they are frequently hired as concert security. It began in 1961, when George Harrison brought some Hells Angels from San Francisco over to London for a Beatles concert. The bikers’ respect earned the respect of the Beatles.

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Since then, many bands have hired Hells Angels as a form of local security. The bikers get to attend the concert and earn some extra money on the side. It’s also an opportunity to show off their Hells Angels pride.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

They Honor The Deaths Of Their Members

Since Hells Angels centers around motorcycle riding, deaths happen. When a member dies–especially a young member–the Hells Angels go out of their way to keep that person’s memory alive. They may hang up posters, ride with that person’s photos, or tell their story at a meeting.

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In 2019, 21-year-old Hells Angel member Clay Hubbard passed away on his birthday. His mother delivered the news to the motorcycle group. Although she felt intimidated, the group comforted her and even prayed with her in a parking lot. She gave the members a bracelet so Clay could “ride along with them on their rides.”

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Community Involvement Is Crucial

Hells Angels don’t only operate within their own group. They emphasize community involvement, and many members join local charities and events. It’s not uncommon to see Hells Angels support the same bars and shops in their neighborhood.

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At one point, a Hells Angels group discovered that their local bar was raising money for SELF School. The nonprofit donated educational resources to disabled children and cancer patients. Immediately, the group volunteered to help and raised money for the supplies. That’s one of many ways in which Hells Angels support their local communities.

Living By The Code: Rules That All Hells Angels Have To Follow

Protecting The Brand Is Crucial

By now you know how important it is to protect the brand of the Hells Angels, but we haven’t discussed just far the club is willing to go in this regard. While you might think the rules on this would lean towards violence, sometimes the club goes by the rules of the law.

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The Hells Angels have sued several large companies in order to protect their brand, including Disney after the movie Wild Hogs was released.

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