By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief
The Ruthless Ryderz, the motorcycle club that infuriates so many Palisadians with its high-speed rides along Sunset Boulevard, faces fresh scrutiny at its rallying ground in the town. For years, on every Wednesday night between 9 and 10 p.m., the Valley-based club—many call them a “gang,” but authorities have not legally proscribed them as such—appear en masse from Brentwood and ride west along Sunset Boulevard. Their numbers vary between a dozen and, occasionally, as many as 50. Speeds have allegedly been logged at more than 80 mph. After a typical eight-minute parade of black leather and Yamaha bikes, accompanied by what residents describe as a thunderous and selfish racket, many pull into the 76 gas station at the intersection of Sunset and Pacific Coast Highway. There they will refuel, visit the bathroom and “hang” for around 20 minutes before some turn around and race back up Sunset toward the 405 and home. But maybe for not much longer. Carlos Rodriguez, the manager at the 76, the El Segundo-based chain of gas stations known for its slogan “The Spirit of ’76,” has grown weary of club members loitering, disturbing residents and blocking the driveway to the station. Rodriguez, who has worked with the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness and other community-minded organizations, has put up signs discouraging loitering. But on Wednesday, Oct. 11, after the Ryderz had departed, he noticed a sign had vanished. CCTV footage suggested it was a member of the club. The gas station tries to treat the Ryderz like other customers, but this insult crossed a line. So, ignoring their sometimes-scary reputation, Rodriguez phoned up a club leader in Van Nuys who told him that people steal signs all the time. “Maybe in your neighborhood,” Rodriguez deadpanned. The 76 is contracted to stay open 24/7 so, despite some residents’ desires, it cannot “shut up shop” and displace the bikers elsewhere on a Wednesday night. Rodriguez has spoken to LAPD’s Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore and Palisades Patrol, the private security firm, to coordinate a crackdown on the bikers at the 76 on Wednesday nights. In recent months, such efforts, including a DUI checkpoint, have reduced numbers. The club’s once-unnerving Sunday afternoon rallies, possibly arranged through the app Meetup, have become less problematic since club member David “Baby Face” Babylan died in a collision with a Mercedes at the intersection of Sunset and Chautauqua on Sunday, May 2. LAPD Sgt. Eun told the Pacific Palisades Community Council on Thursday, Oct. 12, that the investigation into that collision is still on-going as they try to estimate Ruthless Ryderz speeds just before four bikers hit a Mercedes driven by an unsupervised teenager. He said, realistically, the Ruthless Ryderz cannot be kept out of the Palisades, but their most extreme anti-social behaviors will continue to be tracked and challenged by LAPD officers. And, in the future, perhaps most fearful of all, they are facing a lot of “education” and “friendly talks” about their outlaw ways.
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