Wednesday, June 20, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club lined the back wall of city hall in Boulder City on Tuesday evening, arms folded and sunglasses donned.
They listened to Police Chief Thomas Finn address dozens of concerned citizens. It wasn’t surprising that some bikers were in attendance; the meeting, after all, was about them.
Word that the motorcycle club had chosen Boulder City as the site for its three-day national club meeting — set for this weekend — had raised a few eyebrows. Residents packed the meeting to air concerns about noise levels, traffic and parking issues, and, yes, public safety.
Those worries are understandable, especially given the motorcycle club's recent history of violence in Southern Nevada.
In 2002, Mongol members got into a nasty spat with members of a rival club, the Hells Angels, while at Harrah’s casino in Laughlin. More than 60 bikers joined the clash, brandishing guns and knives. By the end of the evening, three people (two Hells Angels and one Mongol) were dead. Another altercation between the groups took place at a downtown Las Vegas wedding chapel in 2008.
Finn aimed to ease the minds of those in attendance, promising a bulked-up police presence. He said local, state and federal officers would be pitching in this weekend to ensure the event goes smoothly.
“We’re not going to put our heads in the sand and hope things don’t go bad,” Finn said. “We’re prepared for the worst-case scenario and hoping for the best.”
The police chief said the worst-case scenario wouldn't involve actions of the Mongol group itself, but the potential repercussions "if a rival club were to get involved."
Surprisingly, much of the chatter filling the town hall was upbeat.
“We’ve received very positive feedback,” said Stephen Stubbs, the lawyer representing the Mongols Motorcycle Club for the Nevada chapter. “I’ve had a sweet old lady who called me offering to baby-sit some of the members kids while they’re here. I had another person, an official from Lake Mead, who called and wanted me to remind the members to stay hydrated.”
According to Stubbs, there had been some complaints, but they were outnumbered by positive remarks about the bikers' visit. Stubbs also said Mongols from the Nevada chapter had been coming to the Boulder City area for decades.
Although Boulder City might seem like an odd site for a biker gathering, Stubbs said the town is a draw for various reason.
“Some wanted to rent a boat and go out on Lake Mead. Others have wives who wanted to check out the shopping in town.”
The potential economic impact the bikers could bring might be why some residents are optimistic about this weekend.
“We’ll serve them the best food we possibly can!” said Cindy Ford, a Boulder City resident and owner of the Southwest Diner.
Ford was delighted to hear the bikers will be cruising into town, arriving en masse on Friday, because of the boost to local businesses, she said.
“I think you should treat someone with respect, which I do with all my customers,” said Ford. “I hope I’m not being naïve about this. There’s bad apples in every group — you could even find some bad apples from right here in Boulder City.”
One Mongol, who goes by the nickname Blanco, sought to reassure residents with a promise.
“We will respect the city and leave it cleaner than when we found it,” he said.