(New York’s Finest vs. Hells Angels)
Now, assault is serious business, and by all accounts the 52-year-old woman who was found beaten unconscious on the sidewalk outside the Hells Angels headquarters on East Third Street in Manhattan Sunday night was left in a terrible way.
Still, one has to wonder at the clusterfuck of forces the NYPD mustered to raid the biker hangout on Monday in hopes of nabbing the thug or thugs who did it.
By mid afternoon, police had cordoned off the block and lined First Avenue with an armada of trucks and emergency services vehicles—even the nifty armor-plated vehicle above, which looked like some kind of tank/SUV hybrid.
There were SWAT cops in bullet-proof vests with bomb-sniffing dogs, snipers posted on neighboring rooftops, even a pair of NYPD helicopters that swooped over the area for hours as detectives waited for a judge to sign off on a warrant to search the place and seize videotapes from the security cameras posted at the club’s entrance.
But if you’re getting a warrant, why bring out all the big guns?
“Every time we go through their door, it costs us millions so they want to do this right by the book,” said one officer, referring to the history of legal judgments that the Hell’s Angels have won against the city for busting in without proper paperwork.
So a mini-tank is by the book?
“They’re crazy hippies who work on bikes. They’re not rational,” one tabloid reporter weighed in, as if that explained it.
Though cops aren’t saying much, word on the street is the woman, identified in the news as Roberta Shalaby, had been partying a few doors down at a bar called The Edge and got in a tiff there with some Hells Angels from out of town, possibly California. “They got in some kind of confrontation at the bar and then she went to bang on the door [of the club] and somebody beat her up,” said a guy named “True” with a busted-up hand who said he was an extreme fighter.
True, who lives on East 2nd, said he walked by and found the woman bleeding on the sidewalk around 11:45 p.m. Sunday night, just as the ambulances were arriving. But he doubted any of the New York Angels could have done such a thing. “I’ve lived around the block since 1975, and these guys here have done nothing bad,” True insisted. “They stop guys from hanging out and smoking crack on the street, and all that shit. They keep it safe for us.”
(Waiting for something to go down)
Clearly the NYPD feel otherwise. Their 24-like surge on 77 East 3rd drew scores of bystanders who shivered in the street for hours on Monday, hoping to catch some action. “Can someone hurry up and do something violent so we can get this show on the road?” demanded one guy with a videocam, in half jest.
But the Angels weren’t playing. At around 5 p.m. the warrant arrived along with the Hells Angels prez and some other beefy-looking guys, who after a few moments of negotiation, agreed to cooperate with the detectives. According to Hells Angels lawyer Ron Kuby, the cops removed five bikers in cuffs then released all but one, who was still being held for questioning.
With TV cameras clustered, Kuby was quick to play the Hells Angels as victims of “decades of police harassment,” while ridiculing the NYPD’s “show-off” tactics.
“I guess a lot of cops didn’t have a chance to go to Iraq so they’re creating Falluja on Third Street. Or maybe they’re just upset Will Smith is getting all the press.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 29, 2007