Bikers Sue Restaurants That Refused Service Owners Say Hells Angels’ Clothing Scares Away Other Customers
Four Hells Angels, riding lowprofile since their arrival in Spokane last summer, are suing two local restaurants that refuse to serve them.
The bikers say they are being discriminated against because they wear their Angels insignias.
But the restaurant owners say they have a right to refuse service and contend the Angels’ well-known patches intimidate other customers.
“This suit is just a bunch of baloney, and now it’s costing us money,” said Bob Racicot, who owns The Shed, 1801 N. Division.
A similar suit was filed against Thudpucker’s, 43 W. Riverside.
“I just feel like these charges are without merit,” said Thudpucker’s manager Ron VanDamme.
A Spokane County District Court judge will be asked to dismiss the lawsuits, probably within a few weeks, says attorney John Perry, who represents the restaurants.
A similar case brought in Alaska by the Hells Angels eventually went to that state’s Supreme Court, which in 1989 ruled in favor of the restaurants, Perry said.
State and federal discrimination laws deal with race, religion, creed, skin color, age, gender and disabilities. Perry said the laws make no provision for refusing service to someone because of their clothing.
“These are private businesses who have a right to refuse service to people appearing in attire that could cause problems,” Perry said.
The Spokane lawsuits were brought by Donald Rapp, Tim Myers, Evan Barton and Robert Peldo, all charter members of the Spokane chapter of the Hells Angels.
Peldo is believed to be the president of the Spokane chapter, which appears to be having problems attracting members as it heads toward its first anniversary.
Peldo, the group’s former sergeant-at-arms, moved up after Kenneth Self was dethroned for reasons that aren’t fully understood by law enforcement experts.
Self reportedly had an Angels “death wing” tattoo burned off his chest as he was ostracized from the club, law enforcement sources say. He now reportedly is living in Stevens County.
The four Hells Angels members, all living in Spokane, are represented by attorney Edwin Alden, of Kennewick. Alden did not return telephone calls Friday.
In the suits, the bikers say they went to the restaurants and were denied service because of their affiliation with the Hells Angels.
“The establishment does not preclude any other club or organization from wearing attire indicating membership or support,” the suits say.
The bikers have a First Amendment right to wear clothing which displays writing or designs, the suits add.
Further, they say, the plaintiffs have a constitutional right to belong to any club or organization of their choice.
The suits seek unspecified special and general damages, and exemplary damages in the amount of $10,000 for each plaintiff.