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As the Oakland chapter planned to mark the 50th anniversary of its founding this weekend, police put extra officers on duty Thursday, even as they downplayed the chance of trouble from a club with a long history of run-ins with the law.

“I anticipate it’s going to be one of the biggest events the club has had,” said George Christie, the group’s Ventura chapter president. “I just think everybody’s in a festive mood.”

Christie said the event, which kicks off Friday with a concert, is drawing members to Oakland from all over the world.

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The motorcycle club’s Oakland chapter, best known for providing security at the 1969 Altamont Free Concert where a fan was killed by a Hells Angel, is expected to have 600 to 800 bikers at the event, police said.

The group has secured the necessary permits, but officers will patrol the events to make sure nothing gets out of hand, police said.

The Hells Angels were formed in Fontana in 1948. By the 1960s, the club had become synonymous with outlaw biker counterculture.

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Today, the group organizes motorcycle runs all over the world and takes part in charitable events such as Christmas toy drives. But the group’s history includes links to methamphetamine distribution, prostitution and violence.

The Oakland chapter was founded by Ralph “Sonny” Barger, 68, who served time in federal prison for conspiring to blow up the clubhouse of a rival biker gang, the Outlaws.

Barger has since become a best-selling author, but his lawyer said he was unavailable to comment and refused to give details of the weekend’s events, describing it as a “private party.”

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Memories of Altamont concert linger
Even so, the stigma of the Altamont concert still follows the group, he said. The Hells Angels, including Barger, were given free beer in return for helping to keep fans from rushing the stage.

When a shouting match erupted as The Rolling Stones played, fan Meredith Hunter pulled a gun and was stabbed by Hells Angel Alan Passaro. The killing was captured in the 1970 documentary film “Gimme Shelter.”

Passaro, who died in 1985, was acquitted after claiming self-defense.

Besides the chapter’s golden anniversary, another reason for celebration was the resolution earlier this month of a lengthy criminal trial involving the group.

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Eleven members were sentenced to prison in connection with a deadly brawl with members of rival biker gang the Mongols in a Laughlin, Nevada, casino in 2002.

However, federal charges against three dozen other members were dismissed after prosecutors failed to prove the club was a criminal enterprise similar to the Mafia.

Police on alert for trouble from Mongols
Police have their guard up, in part, because the Mongols are particularly active in nearby San Jose.

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Christie, for one, said he has no interest in trouble. He said he’s bringing his wife, 14-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son to the event. Another son, a 30-year-old chef, will be there as a member of the group.

Christie said the Hells Angels were recently banned from the Ventura County Fair. He said the group is fighting the ban in court.

“They said we fell under the category of a gang and they were banning all gangs,” he said. “It’s a shame.”

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So the Hell’s Angles are a Social Club, like the Red Hat Society
Sounds like discrimination to me!

I love bikes…got one for my high school graduation present…did not becone a HEll’s ANGEL…but it is never to late!

The late Gov. of Texas, Ann Richards was a biker chick! She always got my vote!

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Raise Hell…Hell’s Angle and I hope that there are lots of you around on the 100th Anniversary!

Bikes, smiles and world peace,
The Rebel with a Cause
~The Baby Boomer Queen~

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