Confrontation shuts down Oregon biker rally

REDMOND, Ore. — Police shut down an Oregon motorcycle rally following a confrontation between biker groups, prompting the cancelation of a headlining concert and catching some event-goers in mid-tattoo.

Redmond Police Capt. Brian McNaughton said a large contingent of the Mongols organization arrived at the Run to the Cascades rally at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds on Saturday evening and threatened members of the Hells Angels with violence if they didn’t leave. The Hells Angels had a booth at the event.

KTVZ-TV reported that the Hells Angels did pack up, but witnesses told law enforcement that they said they were coming back with more members to settle the dispute.

“Witnesses reported the Mongols group threatened violence if the Hells Angels group was not gone within 15 minutes,” said Redmond police Capt. Brian McNaughton. “Witnesses reported weapons were brandished.”

Redmond officers contacted the fairgrounds director and, with the assistance of sheriff’s deputies, state police, and Bend police, shut down the rally. They threatened anyone who stayed with trespassing citations.

The early closing forced the cancelation of a headlining concert by the classic rock group Foghat. Some people were arriving for the concert as police were shutting the event down.

Others were in an even tighter spot: Some tattoo artists were inking their customers and had to quickly finish up.

Thousands of bikers attended the rally, which began Friday. It attracted motorcyclists from around the region for a variety of concerts, events and activities focused on the themes of remembering those lost in 9/11 and celebrating American freedom.

“The two motorcycle clubs, Hells Angels and Mongols, have a history of very violent encounters,” McNaughton said. “It is the intent of the officials involved to assure our citizens’ safety, and this is always the top priority in any decision of this nature.”

There had been two prior arrests at the rally, one in a dispute Friday night reportedly involving a knife, and another early Saturday after a man fired a gun at the fairgrounds.

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