The Outlaws Motorcycle Club (Outlaws) have more than 1,700 members who belong to 176 chapters in the U.S. and in 12 foreign countries. U.S. law enforcement authorities estimate that the Outlaws have more than 86 chapters in 20 states with over 700 members. The Outlaws also identify themselves as the A.O.A. (American Outlaws Association) and the Outlaws Nation. The Outlaws are the dominant OMG in the Great Lakes region. The Outlaws are involved in the production, transportation and distribution of methamphetamine, the transportation and distribution of cocaine, marijuana and, to a lesser extent, ecstasy. The Outlaws engage in various criminal activities including arson, assault, explosives, extortion, fraud, homicide, intimidation, kidnapping, money laundering, prostitution, robbery, theft and weapons violations. The Outlaws compete with the Hells Angels for both members and territory.
Membership in the Outlaws is limited to men who own American-made motorcycles of a particular size, although in Europe motorcycles from any country are allowed so long as they are in the chopper style. Their main rivals are the Hells Angels, giving rise to an acronym used by Outlaws members, "ADIOS" (Angels Die In Outlaw States).
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club was established out of Matilda's Bar on old Route 66 in McCook, Illinois a southwestern suburb of Chicago in 1935. The club stayed together during World War II, but like most organizations at that time, their activities were limited. In May 1946, the Outlaws attended the first major post-war motorcycle event in the midwest, which was held at Soldier Field, Chicago.
By 1950, the Outlaws had expanded rapidly and most of their members were now from the Chicago area. The club re-established itself in Chicago and changed their logo; a small skull replaced a winged motorcycle and Old English-style letters were adopted. This design was embroidered on a black shirt and hand painted on leather jackets. In 1954, the Crossed Pistons were added to the original small skull. This design was embroidered on a black western-style shirt with white piping. The movie The Wild One with Marlon Brando influenced this backpatch. The Skull and Crossed Pistons were redesigned in 1959, making them much larger with more detail. The A.O.A. Logo was adopted as an answer to the A.M.A. logo.
In 1960, the American Motorcycle Association, an organization which supervises all official races in the United States, banned the word "Outlaws" from all race clothing. Therefore all racing club members wore the sign O.M.C.(Outlaw Motorcycle Club) on their outfits until 1963. The Outlaws became an official member of the 1%er Brotherhood of Clubs in 1963, making it the first official 1%er club east of the Mississippi River. On July 4, 1964, the Cult MC from Voorheesville were patched-over by the Outlaws. During the Springfield Motor Races in August of the same year, they became associates of the Gypsy Outlaws from Louisville, Kentucky. A Milwaukee chapter was then established and the "Outlaw Nation" was founded with Chicago as Mother Chapter. On January 1, 1965, the American Outlaws Association (A.O.A.) was founded. The insignia of the club, a skull and crossed pistons, is named "Charlie". In July 1967, the Outlaws National President and a number of other members travelled south from Chicago and sanctioned the club's first chapter in Florida. "God Forgives, Outlaws Don't" ("G.F.O.D.") became the club's motto in 1969.
In 1977, the Outlaws patched-over Satan's Choice MC in Canada, to found its first foreign chapter. The club's first Iowa chapter was founded in 1978 when Diablo Knights MC became an Outlaws associate. A member not belonging to the Mother Chapter in Chicago became the club's National President for the first time in 1984 and in 1989, the abbreviation "MC" (Motorcycle Club) was added to the backpatch. The Outlaws' first European chapter was established in France in 1993 and the following year, an Australian chapter was founded. MC 44 of France also became a chapter. In 1995, the club's Chicago chapter was split into three groups: Mother Chapter (Southside), Westside and Northside. A second European chapter was also opened in Norway. In 1999, the Belgian Outlaws MC, which already existed independently for 25 years, became a member of the AOA. The 2000s saw the Outlaws expand rapidly in Europe. The English and Welsh Outlaws MC, until then independent MCs, joined the AOA in 2000. Ghost Riders MC of Germany joined the AOA and chapters were opened in Sweden and Thailand in 2001. In 2002, the Outlaws' first support club, the Black Pistons, was founded in Germany. There are now Black Pistons chapters in the United States, Canada, England, Poland and Norway. Poland, along with Italy, also opened its first Outlaws chapter that year. By 2003, the Outlaws were represented in 19 US states. In late 2004, the first Outlaws chapter was opened in Russia and in 2005, the club celebrated the 70th Anniversary as a Motorcycle Club and the 40th Anniversary of the AOA. A Japanese chapter was opened in 2006 and in 2007, the club opened a chapter in the Philippines. The Black Pistons also started its first chapter in Australia.
Famous and infamous members
The FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitive #453, Harry Joseph Bowman, known World Leader of the AOA, in prison since 1999 for three murders, was the international president of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. During the time that Bowman was a fugitive in 1998, it had chapters in more than 30 cities in the United States and some 20 chapters in at least four other countries. David Allan Coe was a member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club.
Established: 1935 in McCook, Illinois, United States
Years active: 1935-present
Territory: Chapters in Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, the Republic of Ireland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the United States and Wales
Ethnicity: White and Hispanic
Membership: 1,700 full-patch members, many more prospects and hang-arounds
Criminal activities: Drug dealing, arms dealing, bombings, extortion, prostitution, trafficking in stolen goods
Allies: Bandidos, Black Pistons, and Mongols
Rivals: Hells Angels, Highwaymen, Pagans, Sons of Silence
See also: Harry Bowman, Operation Ice Breaker, Biker Gangs