ANDERSON — Anthony “Tony” Lupica sat on a bar stool inside one of three buildings he recently acquired from the former motorcycle club known as the Ratcoons.
Lupica, 67, said he purchased the property to open a chapter of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club — a nationwide organization known as 1%ers.
The American Motorcycle Association helped coin the 1%er term during a motorcycle rally held in 1947 in Hollister, California.
The organization stated at the time that 99% of the people at their events were God-fearing and family oriented. The other 1% were hard riding, hard partying, non-mainstream people.
Lupica said the term isn’t about the baddest of the bad — they just like to do things in extreme.
“People fear the unknown,” Lupica said. “Our thing is we ride more, we probably party more. We do everything more than other people do. We are the elite of the elite of motorcycle clubs in the world.”
The club’s reputation is very well known, especially among law enforcement officers.
“The police followed us into town,” said Lupica. “They were looking for warrants, checking out license plates and doing all that stuff.
“We are not here to rape, pillage and plunder,” he added.
Anderson Police Chief Tony Watters said he spoke with Lupica shortly after his arrival in Anderson.
“When I saw the Outlaws ride into the city of Anderson, it did raise concerns because I know the legacy behind that motorcycle club,” he said.
Watters said Lupica gave him his word that the Outlaws are opening a new chapter locally to help improve the quality of life in both the community and its schools.
“Time will tell,” Watters said.
Lupica said the Outlaws are not coming to Anderson to “oppress civilians who are not motorcycle riders or other motorcycle clubs.”
He said the Outlaws history is a long one, originating in 1935 as the Sam McCook’s Outlaws. He said they are the oldest motorcycle club in the country and their members include doctors, lawyers and successful professionals.
“Hell’s Angels came on board in 1946,” Lupica said.
To his knowledge, this is the first time an Outlaws chapter has opened in Anderson.
“If we did have one here, we would still be here,” he said. “we have several hundred all over the world — probably 550 all over the world.”
Shaking negative perceptions about the Outlaws, however, might not be easy.
In 2012, FBI agents raided motorcycle clubs belonging to the Outlaws in both Fort Wayne, where Lupica was listed as the president and incorporator, and the Indianapolis chapter. In all, 42 members of the organization were charged.
Federal prosecutors said the group was targeted for a variety of offenses including racketeering, mail fraud, money laundering, extortion, drug charges, wire fraud, witness tampering and operating an illegal gambling operation.
Lupica said he will be the president of the Anderson chapter which is strategically located halfway between the Fort Wayne and Indianapolis Outlaws.
“This just gives them one more place going from the East to the West and the West to the East to refresh themselves,” he said. “Plus, it was a good move on our part because of the real estate and everything. We got a really good deal. It’s 3.8 acres.”
The acreage will provide room for Outlaws during state and national events held by the club in Anderson, he said.
Lupica said people might have some misconceptions about Outlaws, but with time those will be corrected. One of the biggest misconceptions is that the organization is a motorcycle gang.
“We are a motorcycle club,” he stressed. “Every motorcycle club in this age has to evolve or they become extinct. Kind of like the dinosaurs. They are not here anymore.”
In fact, Lupica said they want to close the gap between motorcyclists and citizens and help combat bullying and teen suicide rates locally.
He said in the past he has taken 50 Outlaws with him to escort a student being bullied to school.
“We feel it’s a precursor to teen suicide,” Lupica said of bullying. “It’s just too much and it’s a pandemic.”
The first step to stop bullying is to educate people, Lupica said.
“A child did not come out of the womb being a bully,” he said. “It’s a learning process that they have learned through poor parenting or they learned through other kids. They don’t come out of the womb as bullies.”
He compared the problem to teen pregnancy before health classes were taught in schools.
“We have to do the same thing with bullying,” Lupica said. “We have to have a conversation about it. I believe it should be learned at home, but unfortunately with the way society is today, they are learning the wrong things at home sometimes.”
Lupica also talked about the importance of children.
“They are our future,” he said. “We need to do a better job of protecting them.”
Parents with children who are bullied should first talk with school personnel to address the issues and the parent of the other child involved.
“There should be some dialogue between them,” he said. “Not heated dialogue, but dialogue where they can resolve the problem.
“If we don’t try to resolve a problem, we are part of the problem,” he added.
He said the Outlaws will always champion children who have been bullied.
“We have to try and stop kids being tortured,” he said. “They need to have freedoms, liberty and happiness like everyone else.”
The motorcycle club also plans to participate in local charity events and give back to the community. Not everyone who rides a motorcycle, however, can become a member.
Lupica said some of the restrictions include no female members or someone who has worked in law enforcement or as a guard in a prison institution.
“There are police that are in motorcycle clubs and it’s a conflict of interest,” he said. “You can’t be one and not the other. A child molester would also never get in.”
He said there is a year-long “hang-around period” and background checks are conducted on prospective members.
“Those are just some of the guidelines we use,” Lupica said. “It’s a brotherhood of like-minded people.”