ANDERSON, Ind. – A motorcycle club with a notorious history wants to be part of the Anderson community.
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club purchased a new 3.8-acre lot on Fairview Street.
The motorcycle club began in the 1930s, and their past, even in Indiana, has included criminal convictions involving racketeering, gambling, drug trafficking, and fraud.
"Most presidents of chapters, and most outlaws themselves, recognize that it's detrimental to a club when something like that happens," Tony Lupica, President of the Anderson chapter said. "Of course, we do our due diligence and say 'hey man, don't do it. It's not worth it.'"
Lupica said they are not here to oppress other clubs, like the A-Town Riders in Anderson, get in bar fights, or bully people.
"Rape, pillage and plunder, that's not what we're here for," Lupica explained.
Lupica said they will eventually be involved in community activities, particularly those which support motorcycle riding. They said they'll invite neighbors, including children, to come on their property for events too.
"The community shouldn't be afraid of us," Lupica said. "We'll embrace you, you embrace us. It's a mutual respect."
Lupica said there is more to him, and other people in his club, besides riding motorcycles, though that is how he spends much of his time. He said he also founded a group that helps organize charity events called UME United Motorcycle Enthusiasts.
"Each Outlaw is not only an outlaw, I wear many caps," Lupica said. "I'm a father, I'm a grandfather, I'm a great-grandfather, I'm a musician, I'm a Christian."
Lupica said it takes a while and commitment to become part of the Outlaws. He did not give specifics on how a person becomes a member. He said they do not recruit per se. People should talk with them at events.
"You have to hang around the Outlaws for a year, and then the Outlaws themselves that are in that chapter have to vote on whether they will probate you or not," Lupica explained. "Then what I like to do is I like to bring that person in and their significant other because if the significant other isn't 100% behind them, it'll be murderous for him and her."
Lupica said people must have a Harley Davidson motorcycle, or another American-made motorcycle to join. He said the process is stringent.
"We do background checks, I like to know what church they go to, I like to know that they are who they say they are," Lupica explained.
Police officers, prison guards, and child predators are not allowed to become members, and neither are women.
"They can be property of, now property of, a lot of girls they look at it as, 'Ah, I won't be anybody's property,'" Lupica explained. "In the day it was the only way that we could let people know, for instance, if you were a property of an Outlaw then every Outlaw in the nation, where ever you are, will protect you as much as he's going to protect an Outlaw because that patch is a reflection of our patch."
Major Joel Sandefur said Lupica and former police chief Tony Watters have had a conversation. Sandefur said the department is hopeful the club will be a good asset to the community.
"Basically, we're just going to watch, and wait, and see how they conduct themselves," Sandefur said. "They say they're going to be good citizens, and productive citizens in Anderson."
Sandefur said the department is aware of the Outlaws' reputation.
"We'll reach out to other law enforcement agencies and see what type of background and what type of history that they have," Sandefur said. "We also understand that there is a bit of a history there, but we want to give them a benefit of the doubt possibly."