August 12, 2011
The morning sun brought more than just light... it brought a battery of FBI agents along with the Ventura PD. It was an arrest warrant…. from a 2007 crime. At least they had no interest in anything in my home. Thank god. Last time they executed a search warrant it took us a week to clean up the mess left by the Ventura Sheriffs.
It didn't take long for my hands to be cuffed behind me. I leaned into my wife, Nikki, and kissed her goodbye. I said “Don't worry, I'll be back in a couple days”. Neither one of us believed that was true but we weren't about to show our hand and share any real feelings or concerns in front of our unwanted guests.
Within minutes, after a quick ride in the back of a marked VPD car, I was at the local FBI headquarters. They moved my cuffs to a front position and offered me a cup of coffee. I took it, figuring it might be my last cup for awhile.
The FBI are all college educated -- well trained and smart. They started with an ego play. They told me how impressed they were with my near 35 year run as a leader and so on and so forth. I just sat and listened. Then they showed me pictures of all my club belongings, once my most prized possessions, a 40 year legacy, now in the clubhouse attic in a pile of rubble.
“This is what your brothers now think of you George”. They went on and on about how I had reached the end of my road. They were layering it on thick. They informed me they had intercepted a phone conversation and my life was in danger.
'So it's all come down to this' I thought. I slowly sipped my coffee and listened to their pitch. I felt like I was cornered by a pair of pushy, over enthusiastic salesmen with a product I had no interest in. Their words melted into one loud sound -- their voices a dull roar in my ears.
A lifetime of integrity -- being true to my word -- distilled into this one defining moment. 'What’s it going to be?' I asked myself. The agents, pressing even harder now, barked at me in rapid succession: “You have no one to turn to”, “Use your head George”, “You don't owe them anything”, “You’re a dead man”.
I just couldn't buy what they were selling -- like a cheap suit it didn't fit right. I sat and listened to their barrage. I had talked the talk since 1966, it was now time to walk the walk. I guess it was my time to pay the piper.
They wanted me to testify against my former club brothers.
I heard myself speak. It just rolled out and bounced off the walls... almost as if someone else was saying it…
"I'll take my chances."
A little more than a week ago I wrote my first blog post… for my second I was planning to continue telling the story of my two year ordeal on house arrest, some dirty tricks by the Feds, my sentencing and my trip across the Southwest to turn myself into a Texas prison. But that all changed last week with an early morning call from my oldest child, Moriya... her voice shaking and filled with pain. As she spoke the words“Georgie is gone” my heart sank into the floor and the bile in my stomach rose up into my throat. My oldest boy, George Gus Christie, had lapsed into a diabetic coma and left us behind. They say that losing a child is the hardest thing any parent will ever go through… it’s true and the grief covered me like a heavy blanket.
My family and I can’t thank you all enough for the kinds words and support you’ve all extended as we begin dealing with this overwhelming loss. Georgie’s physical being may be gone from us but his spirit and memory will always be with us. I like to think he is our lead scout mapping out a safe course for the rest of us in a journey we will all eventually take.
I’d like to share a special story with you.
We left Ventura around midnight. We were trying to make it through the desert before that unforgiving sun rose. Once again, we were on our way to Sturgis.
Twelve bikes, followed by my family in our Dodge Van: my wife at the time, Cheryl, my daughter Moriya and my 16 year old son Georgie. We were streaming across the desert night -- tight as a military caravan, fast as a pack of race cars. The sun was just rising as we hit Mesquite. Ventura's packs always ran hard and fast. We set noon as our departure time - would rest for five hours then get back on the road. If we stayed on schedule we would be in Grand Junction with the setting sun. There we’d take a full nights rest then head up the 70 and onto the 25 that would take us into Cheyenne, leaving a one day ride into Sturgis.
We had made Grand Junction a pit stop on this route for many years. It was always a friendly place for us -- with reasonable lodging and food and even an authorized Harley dealership. On this particular journey, after a shower and some dinner, the older brothers were sharing war stories with the newer members making their first ride across country as Hells Angels. Next year, as seasoned members, they would be telling their own stories to the new guys.
As the night was coming to a close Aaron, who had just been voted in as a new member, asked how close we were to the airport. His question didn't sit right with me and my instinct served me well. After a quick line of questioning Aaron informed me he had to be back in Ventura for court the next day. After I gave him one of my famous lectures he assured me I worried too much and that all he really needed was for us to get his bike back to Ventura.
This caused a bit of a ruckus. We just weren’t prepared to truck his bike. The van wasn’t set up for a tow bar and was full of excess gear for the entire crew. Add in the three passengers and it was maxed out. So much for planning ahead.
Aaron was from the younger generation of members with a free spirit and an open mind and heart. He never missed a beat and in the midst of our conversation he said “I understand, little George will have to ride it.” As a father, I had my doubts about George’s readiness for such a journey and I will tell you -- the look his mother gave me was dangerous at best. Every Hells Angel in the room thought the idea was brilliant. After several hours of parking lot practice we made our way out to the highway.
Although I was hesitant when Aaron presented the idea of my 16 year old son riding a late model Harley FXR halfway across the United States… Georgie proved to be a natural. His Mom tried one last ditch effort to protest on the basis that while he had a valid state drivers license he didn't have a motorcycle license. I assured her that wouldn’t be a problem and we would take care of it promptly upon returning home. That was that.
The next morning we pulled out of town right on schedule. And let me tell you how good it felt to have my son riding next to me. When we pulled into Sturgis and parked on Main Street in front of Gunners Bar, we were swarmed by Hells Angels from all over the world. Georgie was no longer a boy -- he was the man of the hour. The ride home was even better - out to the Custer Battlefield Memorial, over the Big Horn Mountains to Cody and then up into Yellowstone, back across the desert and then home.
Anyone who has experienced life on the road knows it is a rite of passage. That year, my boy Georgie left Ventura a boy and returned a man. Two years later, at the age of 18, he became the youngest Hells Angel in the World.
I have always been so grateful for this memory. Now it means more than ever. I will never forget that ride with Georgie next to me and when I close my eyes to dream I will see his smile beaming at me as we rode together - side by side - for the very first time.
In April 2011, after several years of silent contemplation, I walked into the Ventura Clubhouse and announced I was done. It was a good run but it was time to walk away and start a new adventure. At the time I had no idea how crazy that adventure would be but I was at a significant personal crossroad and it was time for me to ride a different road.
Within weeks my status and the circumstances of my separation was spun by my political adversaries within the club and I found myself in the middle of a public social media shaming. Ridiculed and disrespected by club supporters that in all likelihood have never been closer to the world of the outlaw motorcycle culture than the keyboard of their computer.
This was no longer the secret world I help build -- we had indeed become the people we rebelled against. The one thing I knew would never change when I made my choice to leave the club was “either you’re in or you’re out”. It became very clear to me that I was now out. The reaction was a little more than I expected but I had been through much worse in my life. I would get through this.
As the next few months passed I became familiar with my exile and my solitude became my friend. That all ended August 12, 2011 as I awoke to the sound of my pitbull Ruby’s bark, the same bark she had always used to alert me when someone who didn't belong was near. I got out the back door and heard my neighbor call out to the intruders "Are you guys really FBI?". Quickly it all became clear... The FEDS were raiding my house. My next adventure had begun.