The goose is not an animal most people would associate with gangs. Gangs typically identify themselves with ominous names. This is especially true in the world of "outlaw" motorcycle gangs, or clubs. The most notorious motorcycle clubs in the United States are the Hells Angels, Bandidos, Outlaws and Pagans. Together, these clubs are known as the "Big Four." A smaller club, mostly unknown outside biker circles and law enforcement, has a growing reputation among the Devils Diciples, Highwaymen, Mongols and other clubs. Their name is deceptively innocent: The Galloping Goose.
The Galloping Goose Motorcycle Club
The Galloping Goose Motorcycle Club has its origins in Southern California. The club, which began in the 1940s as a group of cycle enthusiasts who enjoyed weekend "runs" and hill climbing competitions, has evolved into a "one-percenter" club based in Kansas City, Missouri. As of 2011, the Galloping Goose had chapters in several Missouri cities as well as New Orleans and Houma, Louisiana; Los Angeles; and Billings, Montana. Law enforcement authorities consider the Galloping Goose to be an outlaw motorcycle club involved in extortion and methamphetamine distribution. In June 2009, two members of the club pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. They were the sixth and seventh members of the Galloping Goose and their affiliate club El Forstero M/C to plead guilty in the federal conspiracy case.
The Galloping Goose Name and Logo
The club took its name from one man and his motorcycle. As a leader of a loosely knit group of cycle enthusiasts, Dick Hershberg painted the name "Galloping Goose" and the image of a running hand with an extended middle finger on the gas tank of his motorcycle. When the group went on weekend runs, one member would drive a car pulling a trailer with an outhouse. The club was officially chartered with 13 members in the late 1940s. Today, potential club members must endure an arduous initiation process involving a lengthy stint as a "prospect" before being awarded the club's circular, gold and purple patch emblazoned with the Galloping Goose name, running middle finger, outhouse and the letters "MF."
More than 750 motorcyclists descended upon the small town of Hollister, California, in July 1947. Hollister, a small town with a police department of seven officers, was the site of a national motorcycle hill climbing competition. Trouble supposedly ensued when one of the bikers was jailed for disorderly conduct. National media reports described an out-of-control mob of bikers terrorizing the town, but some witnesses maintained those reports were wildly exaggerated. Legend has it the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) issued a statement in the aftermath of the "Hollister Incident" claiming that 99 percent of bikers were good, decent, law-abiding citizens and a tiny minority had caused the problem. Although the AMA has no record of making the statement, being a "one-percenter" became a source of pride for outlaw bikers everywhere.
Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs
Not all motorcycle clubs are "outlaws." Outlaw motorcycle clubs such as the Galloping Goose and the "Big Four" are not affiliated with the AMA and do not abide by AMA rules. Instead each club enforces its own set of bylaws based on outlaw biker culture. Most mid-sized clubs like the Galloping Goose operate regionally, but the "Big Four" and some other large clubs have a national and international presence. Club members and supporters maintain they simply want to pursue their riding lifestyle free of society's judgment and constraints. On the other side, law enforcement officials argue the outlaw clubs are organized criminal enterprises engaged in illegal activities such as drug and weapons trafficking, racketeering, prostitution and murder-for-hire.
- Galloping Goose: Galloping Goose Origins and Lineage
- International Journal of Motorcycle Studies: "A Brief History of Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs"; William Dulaney; 2005
- "The Mammoth Book of Bikers"; Arthur Veno; 2007
- "Biker Gangs and Organized Crime"; Thomas Barker; 2007
- Galloping Goose: Galloping Goose M/C Home Page
- Kansas City Star: "Local Motorcyclists Plead Guilty..."; 2009
- Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images