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Friday, 12 March 2010

legions of Hells Angels are expected in Nelson this weekend for a poker run.

legions of Hells Angels members are expected in Nelson this weekend for a poker run.
About 30 bikies were stopped after they had disembarked from the ferry at 2pm, before heading to Nelson.About 12 police were involved in the operation.Most of the bikies were Hells Angels gang members.The poker run marks the one year anniversary of the first public outing in Nelson of patched members of the Red Devils, a puppet gang of the Hells Angels.The event is due to go ahead despite all the venues and the charity involved pulling their support at the last minute.Police had promised they would be out in force and said the public should not be intimidated by the gang presence.
"The important thing is that people are safe to go about their business and shouldn't be intimidated by the gang presence," said Senior Sergeant Grant Andrews of Motueka.
"We are aware of the risk but we are dedicated to policing this as we always do."
Yesterday the Turf Hotel in Stoke pulled its support for the event because of negative publicity. The Tapawera Hotel and the last venue on the run have also pulled out.St John Nelson, the event's designated charity, has said it will not accept any money from the poker run.The Tapawera Hotel's owner said she was fearful of violent clashes.
"If there's a threat like this, we don't want it in our pub. It's just a small pub, a quiet country pub. This is the last thing you want in your place."
Mr Andrews, who is heading Operation Joker 2, which will police the gang presence over the weekend, said he was open-minded about what might occur."It seems they can't have a run now because their whole run was to raise money for St John, who now doesn't want any of it."
However, despite the venue cancellations, Jarrod Gilbert, a University of Canterbury PhD student specialising in New Zealand gang culture, said the event would definitely go ahead.He said the Hells Angels had promoted the ride and their reputation was on the line.
"They will certainly follow through with this. Clubs face all sorts of hurdles – if you choose this lifestyle, you commit to running an event like this, but what exactly they will do remains to be seen."
A flier for the poker run says the event is organised by Nelson Bays Motorcycle Events, which "encourages safe and responsible riding".Mr Andrews said the police operation would go ahead as planned, but there was no intelligence to suggest that anything untoward would occur.The leader of a gang calling itself the Southern Skinheads spoke to Newstalk ZB on Wednesday, saying the Hells Angels were not welcome in Nelson because they would bring the drug P with them.The president, "Max", said: "We will burn any pub they drink at, any motel they stay at, and may take it to the extent we will probably try to shoot them off their motorbikes."Mr Andrews said police had to take the threat seriously to ensure the safety of the public."We are prepared for anything that might eventuate but they may just lay low and stay where they are."In Wellington this morning at the ferry terminal, Doug Jay, a patched Hells Angels member from Auckland who was on his way to Nelson, said the perpetrator of the threat should be treated with the contempt he deserved.The Nelson City Council passed a resolution yesterday forwarded by councillor Ian Barker, that the Nelson police were to be advised of the council's "grave concern" about the threats made publicly to burn Nelson hotels and motels, and to shoot people on motorbikes.The resolution also said the council would support the police in taking all action necessary to protect Nelson people and their property.
"The main reason for doing this is to let people know the council is concerned about people and their property," Mr Barker said.
Mr Gilbert said the Southern Skinheads had a small presence in the South Island in 1994 but lasted only a year. He said it was possible that a few people had reformed under the name, but it was equally likely that "a loose cannon was shooting his mouth off"."It seems like a very unusual thing to do in the scene. Usually if you are of that persuasion, you don't make threats – you take action.
Ulysses Club Nelson branch president Lorraine Lindsay said none of its members knew about the run, and the club, for motorcyclists aged 50 and over, did not support it at all.
"The whole thing is pretty negative. They use the motorcycles as a cover for criminal activity, and we certainly wouldn't want anything to do with that. If they saw our Japanese bikes, they probably would

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