Our Danish correspondent TB has compiled a report on Hells Angels based on recent articles and posts appearing in the Danish media. He begins with this translation from Monday’s Politiken:
We are the brown rockers- - - - - - - - -
The conflict is not about race, say two members of HA, who are originally from Pakistan and Iran.
HA member Nico (to the left) and Payman in front of the HA residence on Amager. They both are of foreign background and dismiss the notion that the ongoing gang war is about race. They will not say much about the conflict and its casualties. “I try not to paint a picture that shows that everything is just great, but in the real world there are conflicts, and casualties happen”, Payman says.
On June 30 TV2 had an unusual guest on their morning program.
Between weather forecasts and tips about delicious food, the HA “rocker” Jønke suddenly appeared as some sort of crusader who wanted to defend Denmark and all Danes against the others.
Later that same day the others acquired a name: The Jackals. It happened when the webmaster of Hells Angels homepage publicized the so-called Jackal Manifesto on the club’s website.
Politicians: Racist perspective in the gang war
With his description of the Jackals as “human garbage” and “typical Arabs”, the manifesto caused every political party beside the Danish People’s Party to state that the gang war now had a racist perspective.
Since then HA’s homepage has received many emails from people who want to express their support for HA in the conflict with the jackals. One of them said:
“Just want to say thanks to Jønke for one of the greatest literary works ever composed on Danish soil… get those s***ty jackals out… such a f***ed up and mentally disturbed culture have never been seen before… YEAH.”
There is a smell of men and motorcycles in the HA residence on Amager.
HA members from Iran and Pakistan
But out there, in HA’s strongholds, sit about 10 hardcore members of HA who themselves have an ethnic origin other than Danish. And they deny that the gang war is about race. And they say that they will always retaliate when someone steps on their toes because the politicians, the police and the society have lost it.
Politiken met two Hells Angels “rockers” who were born in Iran and Pakistan. After trying for several months, the “rockers” have now agreed to an interview and invite us inside their residence on Lindgreens Allé on Amager [an island just to the east of Copenhagen].
40-year-old Nico is one of the members of the branch on Amager. He has been a member of HA since 2000 and lives his life as an HA member while being the father of a family with three kids, a wife, and a job as an independent in the real estate service sector.
Payman (34) came to Denmark from Iran as a 10-year-old, and has been a member of HA in Århus since 2003. Today he makes a living selling cars and doing entrepreneur jobs. Payman has served a prison term for violence, while Nico has no criminal record.
HA member “Horn” also participates in the interview. He has been a member since the 80s. He keeps himself in the background and does not want to be photographed.
Rock, wood, and iron dominate the rooms
Inside the rockers’ stronghold many HA members hang around in the rooms, which have obviously been designed by men who ignore recent interior design trends.
Everything is made out of solid materials such as granite, wood and iron. The cozy corners have been furnished with black leather sofas and huge flat screens — one for movies and one for surveillance.
In the bar you can buy spirits, soda water, cigarettes, and chips, and in a small corridor all members keep sleeping clothes so that they can stay overnight.
Solid materials such as rocks, wood, and iron define HA’s stronghold on Amager. The cozy corners have been furnished with black leather sofas and huge flat screens — one for movies and one for surveillance.
On the upper floor in a workshop stand the Harley Davidson motorcycles which are an inseparable part of Hells Angels. These days they do not ride them much, though. It is too dangerous to ride through the city on a Harley with an HA logo on your back.
The article needs final read-through
“Remember our agreement. We need to read the article before it is printed,” Horn states when we have been seated at a table on the first floor, in which only a small amount of daylight comes in through the windows.
“Yeah, and there are certain things that we cannot talk about. We cannot talk about the conflict,” Nico says.
We accept. The rockers may, as do other sources, read through the final article to be able to correct misunderstandings. On the other hand we will not publish the article if they want to change the text so much that we cannot vouch for it. And we insist that we will ask all the questions that we have brought with us — also those about the gang war — and then the three HA members can answer or not.
Payman: It is not racism
Why do you say yes to this interview?
“In the wake of the publication of the manifesto there were a lot of misunderstandings. The newspapers take small sentences and use them out of their original context and there are many who think that we are of the perception that jackals are Arabs and Arabs are jackals. So now we would like to tell our story and present to you that this has nothing to do with racism,” Payman says, who with his dark skin and black hair is a wise choice as a representative when having to refute the charges of racism.
He came to Denmark when his mother and her three kids fled the Muslim regime in Iran in 1985. The family themselves are not Muslims. They ended up in a city in Jutland in which Payman still lives. He does not want to reveal the name of the city.
Why is it such a sensitive question to ask where you are from?
“Among other things it is because of my family. There is no need to put them in harm’s way.”
Do you think a lot about that?
“Of course I do. By nature I am a person who thinks a lot about my family and those I care about. Of course I cannot take care of the whole world, but those I love, I want to take care of.”
15 % Muslim
According to the rockers themselves their families have accepted that they have joined the Hells Angels. As for Nico, even though his parents and seven older siblings are Muslims and all — as opposed to Nico — have chosen to marry a Pakistani, Nico calls himself “15 % Muslim”.
The motorcycles are not on the street that much these days. It is too dangerous because of the gang war.
Nico grew up in a Pakistani family of guest workers in Høje Taastrup [suburb of Copenhagen]. He knows a lot about those young men he today calls jackals, and who are now members of some of the immigrant gangs. Many of them he knows personally. Or maybe he knows their fathers from his childhood on Vestegnen [western part of Copenhagen]. And he greets most of them if he meets them on the street.
As a child Nico looked for Danish friends who played soccer and things like that.
“My friends were mainly Danes. It just felt most natural for me,” he says.
[“Perker” is a term of abuse. It is a word combined from two other words: Perser and Tyrker, meaning Persian and Turk. — translator]
Both Nico and Payman found their way into the HA by knowing someone who was already a member. And in the club they have been able to make other members aware that not all foreigners are “jackals”.
“For sure there are people in our organization who had another perception of foreigners before they met me and Payman. But they are not racists,” Nico says.
But many people have started to talk about you again as being an extreme right-wing organization after you published The Jackal Manifesto, which many interpret as being racist?
“But that is exactly why we want to underline, that this has nothing to do with racism. It is about mentality. You do not have to be a foreigner to be a jackal,” says Payman and explains:
“I usually try to distinguish between ‘foreigner-mentality’ and ‘perker-mentality’. By perker-mentality I mean those who run around Århus hunting people down on their scooters just to steal their Canadian Goose jackets. Hell, that boy has probably worked in the local supermarket for half a year to earn money enough to buy himself such a piece of cloth. Who are they to think that they can just take it from him? They should go find a job themselves so they could buy one with their own money. That’s the kind of mentality that I cannot accept and that is the way the jackals behave.”
The jackals are a small group
[Well, the translator does not agree on this one….sorry! — translator]
“We emphasize that people should not believe that every person with dark hair they see is a jackal. They are not. It is a small group of foreigners in Denmark that we talk about. And yes, we are of the perception that the Arabs are over-represented in this group” Horn says.
But you write that jackals are typically Arabs and you call them “human garbage”. Is that not racist?
“No,” Payman says.
“We write they can typically be Arabs, and that everyone who has that mentality is garbage. People who walk around calling Danish girls ‘whores’ and Denmark a ‘whore country’ are human garbage. You cannot deny that.”
The Harleys take up a lot of space on the first floor where the workshop is.
We do not shout after Mrs. Jensen
[Typical Danish surname used as a reference to an ordinary citizen; Mr. and Mrs. Jensen = ordinary citizens of Denmark, like Mr. and Mrs. Smith. — translator]
As afternoon becomes night more and more members join the stronghold.
“Is that the new Jønke?” one of the brothers shouts when he sees Pakistani Nico together with the journalist and the photographer. He refers to Jørn Jønke Nielsen who has for years been the HA media spokesman.
“Yeah. The brown Jønke,” Nico laughs back.
Seen through the eyes of the average Dane it looks like you are doing the same things as those you refer to as jackals. You are organized in a group which has been connected with different kind of crimes, and many of you have served prison terms. Can you explain the difference between you and the jackals?
“Well, we do not stand six people to the corner and shout towards Mrs. Jensen every time she passes by,” Nico says.
“It is correct that some in our organization have done prison time. They have taken their punishment and it is for sure well-deserved. But we do not come along and harass everybody we can get close to. That must be the biggest difference. If you see six of them they will stand and shout towards anything that goes by while we would just look the other way. We just want to mind our own business.”
“So it is the attitude that makes the difference?
The difference lies in the mentality
“It is the mentality. And as we have said from day one; those who step on our toes must expect that we step back. And that’s actually what has happened. So it is not that strange that this is a cultural conflict.”
How did they step on your toes?
“That we cannot comment on,” Horn says.
And what is it that you do when you step back?
“That we cannot comment on either.”
The authorities have failed
Here in Denmark it is the custom that you call the police, the municipality, the social authorities, or other institutions, and let them take care of the problems. You do not — Why?
“It is not our responsibility to solve society’s problems. We just react when something bad happens to our friends or families” Horn says. Nico continues:
“Haven’t they given up? The municipality and the police and all the other authorities have had plenty of opportunities to solve the problems before this conflict erupted and before those youngster came to where they are now. It is just like they haven’t really succeeded.”
But many — especially people from Copenhagen — would probably say that life has become more insecure since you started to do something about the problems. Is that not an inappropriate side effect of your methods?
“No, I think that people have felt just as insecure as before. Now it is just reported through the papers and the TV. I think that Mrs. Jensen on Rantzausgade [local street in Nørrebro, Copenhagen] have felt insecure for a long time. Even before these shootings became routine” Nico says.
Rejects that the war is about drugs
But while Hells Angels keep identifying the problem as being the behavior of the jackals, the police repeatedly say that the conflict is about criminal businesses; among other things the market for drugs. The rockers cannot accept this. On the contrary, the police have their own motives Payman thinks:
“The police have to state that this is all about something that people can get offended about and which is in the interest of the politicians. If they do not they will not get the means that they need. And it is working — they get more and more money all the time.”
“It is easy for the police to make it look like that this is about drugs because some of our brothers are doing time for exactly that. And at the same time they can hide the fact that integration has failed completely. The last 10-15 years the situation has escalated to what we are now seeing, and for sure the jackals have been cut way too much slack.”
It cost lives to stand by your opinions
What do you think about the fact that this conflict costs lives?
“Well of course that is terrible, but unfortunately that is the potential price when standing up for what you believe in. I do not try to make a sweet-looking picture of the conditions, but in the real world there are conflicts, and casualties happen. That is how it always will be when there is a conflict,” Payman says.
Inside the rockers’ stronghold bulletproof vest are spread around as a sign of the present danger the rockers believe they find themselves in. The more HA members arrive, the more vests pile up on the sofa. Some Coca Cola Zeroes are being consumed, and a few of the members take a little ride down the street on their Harleys. They return quickly, though, after observing the police.
Nico and Payman also use bulletproof vests when they ride around on their bikes. But they are not afraid, they say.
“Of course one pays a little more attention than three years ago. When I get out of my car I look around and when I arrive home I look for cars that I do not recognize. All these small things,” Nico explains.
The shootings will not stop in the near future
When will the shootings stop?
“Well we need a change of mentality and that is not going to happen over night. The problem is that the mentality is paid forward from one generation to the next. The young punks look at the older ones and follows their lead,” Payman says.
How would you like the Danes to look at you?
“I do not mind what Mr. and Mrs. Jensen think about me. If they have a wrong idea about me, then peace be upon them. People have had a wrong idea about me ever since I was born. As long as those I care about and I myself know what kind of person I am, everything will be all right. You cannot be friends with the whole world,” Payman says.
Just to spice everything up, TB includes this comment from an Iranian on HA’s homepage. It is a reaction to the Jackal Manifesto:
July 20, 2009 17:45:40
Ha, I laugh every time I read the Jackal Manifesto… It is as precise as can possibly be…fits the Arabs perfectly….We, the Iranians, have called Arabs Jackals and Hyenas for the last 1400 years. I am so sick and tired of those Arabs ruining everything for everybody else! F*** ARABS. And I really mean it. F*** THEM…trust me Arabs hate Danes and the rest of the world! Arabs are racists… I am a 28-year-old Iranian who has lived in DK for the last 20 years…and I live in DK because the Arabs have ruined MY COUNTRY…and now it is happening again…I love Denmark from the bottom of my heart…but I do not look like a Dane…so I actually run the risk of being shot down by an AK81 because of my appearance…that is hard to think about.
In an article on Wednesday, further developments concerning the Hells Angels “movement” are revealed:
Jønke: Hells Angels expanding
Spokesman for Hells Angels tells about new stronghold in central Copenhagen
Jønke confirms to Ekstra Bladet that the Hells Angels are planning to open a new subdivision — a so-called chapter — in Copenhagen. It will be located in Østerbro and will open in the near future.
HA have been able to recruit many new members after the club began the gang war a year ago against criminal groups in the country’s biggest cities [Now this is a way to formulate it that I have never seen before. Coincidence? Mistake? — translator]. The police have no comments.
“We are following the situation closely but for now we have no comments to the expansion of Hells Angels,” says Kim Kliver from NEC [National Investigation Center of Denmark]
In Copenhagen, Hells Angels already have strongholds on Svanevej and on Lindgreens Allé in Amager. Apart from that they have their young apprentices organized in AK81.