Hells Angels pay tribute to leader of outlaw motorcycle gang Sonny Barger

Peninsula Premier Admin

There was a constant roar of engines as members of an outlaw motorcycle gang made their way into Stockton’s 99 Speedway.Thousands turned out on two wheels Saturday for the six-hour funeral service for Ralph “Sonny” Barger, 83, as law enforcement kept a close eye on the event due to concerns about violence.Barger, a Modesto native, died in June after a brief battle with cancer. He’s credited with creating the first Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels in 1957.Anthony Serna traveled from Hayward to pay his respects to the Hells Angel leader. Serna said he met Barger when he was 16 at a few events in Oakland.”For this to happen in Stockton, California, is a blessing. It’s really nice,” Serna said as he raised his fist and then wiped away tears.But the San Joaquin County sheriff doesn’t see the service as a blessing.”I made it clear we did everything to stop this from happening,” said Sheriff Pat Withrow.Withrow said the service is costing his department $400,000 and he estimates the dozens of other agencies and the California Highway Patrol are spending millions of dollars to protect the community.”This is an event that we made it clear that we think it could turn dangerous,” Withrow said. ” The history of these events proves that.”The Justice Department describes the Hells Angels as a criminal enterprise, with a history of involvement in murders, the distribution of drugs and other criminal activities.Withrow said deputies have already seen rival motorcycle gangs in the area. He said they are concerned about what happens after the funeral ends and thousands of Hells Angels spill out into Stockton and the surrounding communities. “I hope it comes off peacefully and we have absolutely no use for everything we prepared for,” he said “That would be our best scenario.” After the event, the sheriff’s department reported only a few minor incidents, but said additional resources will remain throughout the county.

There was a constant roar of engines as members of an outlaw motorcycle gang made their way into Stockton’s 99 Speedway.

Thousands turned out on two wheels Saturday for the six-hour funeral service for Ralph “Sonny” Barger, 83, as law enforcement kept a close eye on the event due to concerns about violence.

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Barger, a Modesto native, died in June after a brief battle with cancer. He’s credited with creating the first Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels in 1957.

Anthony Serna traveled from Hayward to pay his respects to the Hells Angel leader. Serna said he met Barger when he was 16 at a few events in Oakland.

“For this to happen in Stockton, California, is a blessing. It’s really nice,” Serna said as he raised his fist and then wiped away tears.

But the San Joaquin County sheriff doesn’t see the service as a blessing.

“I made it clear we did everything to stop this from happening,” said Sheriff Pat Withrow.

Withrow said the service is costing his department $400,000 and he estimates the dozens of other agencies and the California Highway Patrol are spending millions of dollars to protect the community.

“This is an event that we made it clear that we think it could turn dangerous,” Withrow said. ” The history of these events proves that.”

The Justice Department describes the Hells Angels as a criminal enterprise, with a history of involvement in murders, the distribution of drugs and other criminal activities.

Withrow said deputies have already seen rival motorcycle gangs in the area. He said they are concerned about what happens after the funeral ends and thousands of Hells Angels spill out into Stockton and the surrounding communities.

“I hope it comes off peacefully and we have absolutely no use for everything we prepared for,” he said “That would be our best scenario.”

After the event, the sheriff’s department reported only a few minor incidents, but said additional resources will remain throughout the county.

Contributed by local news sources

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