Members of motorcycle groups who attended a recent council meeting dispute claims that they are members of the Bandidos gang.
But former councilman Dave Mann maintains his assertion that some of those who were honored at a May 8 meeting were part of the motorcycle gang. Mann, a Tarrant County sheriff’s deputy, resigned Tuesday, upset that the Bandidos were among those on hand for the proclamation for Motorcycle Safety Month.
Paul Ruscelli of HonorBound Motorcycle Ministries said in an email to the Star-Telegram that he attended the meeting and did not see any Bandidos members.
“It is very disturbing to me that someone would misrepresent what took place that day. May is Motorcycle Awareness Month in Texas,” he wrote. “That’s why you see the signs and billboards all over the highways right now. Motorcyclists attend these Proclamation Meetings across our state during the month of May every year.
“By misrepresenting this meeting for his own agenda the ex-councilman has tarnished the focus of having a Motorcycle Awareness Proclamation.
“As part of our ministry, HonorBound has made too many visits to hospital bedsides where a motorcyclist, regardless of the patch they wear, has gone down and is fighting for their life. THAT is what these proclamations are designed to prevent.”
Ruscelli added that he wears a patch emblazoned with a large cross.
“I figured there would be some backlash,” Mann said. “I figured they would be mad.”
The Justice Department lists Bandidos among seven motorcycle clubs that are “highly structured criminal enterprises.” The report also states that the Bandidos incorporate support clubs or “puppet or duck clubs” to do their dirty work and eventually join the Bandidos.
The group was involved in the May 17, 2015, shootout with the Cossacks in Waco that left nine people dead and at least 20 injured.
Mann described seeing the Bandidos’ colors of red and yellow on some of the visitors’ vests, and said some of the jackets had patches with the number “13,” which represents methamphetamine or marijuana dealers.
At least two groups on the list of attendees — the Undesirables and Los Vagabundos — are listed as “support or puppet gangs” and do the Bandidos’ “dirty work,” Mann said.
“If you are bold enough to float Bandidos colors, there is a reason for it,” Mann said.
Councilwoman Evelyn Spurlock also disputes Mann’s claim.
She provided a list of the motorcycle groups represented at the May 8 meeting:
▪ Chula Chasers
▪ Undesirables RC
▪ Los Vagabundos MC
▪ Los Extranos RC
▪ Rough Riders MC
▪ Cowboys From Hell MC
▪ Honor Bound MM
▪ Ishvi Gibbori
▪ Turning Point
“All of this has been very upsetting,” Spurlock said. “I am trying to bring a more positive future to our city, and it’s been a struggle because of stuff like this.”
The largest group in attendance was a minister and children from his church, she said. Military veterans were also on hand for the proclamation, she said
“We are not stupid. We are not going to invite the Bandidos,” she said.
Spurlock said a special election to replace Mann will cost $20,000. His term ends in November.
Brad Culberhouse said he has been riding motorcycles since the 1970s and that members of his group, the Chula Chasers, were among those at the meeting. Members do not wear vests or jackets and hold fundraisers to support Tarrant County MHMR.
Culberhouse said he wasn’t in the council chamber.
“To me, the Jim Crow era is coming back,” he said. “We get pulled over all of the time. ... Calling everybody a gangster is way out of line.”