Cops: Love ‘em or hate ‘em?Strong opinions to be heard at Tuesday meeting, appreciation dinner to be held
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Carlton County residents have expressed strong feelings about last week’s Hells Angels visit and two of those closest to the center of the event are planning to hold related meetings with very different agendas.
Tim Rogentine, owner of the Carlton bar-restaurant where the Hells Angels set up headquarters, said Wednesday he plans to hold a community meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 11 at Lost Isle to discuss what he called heavy-handed law enforcement.
“I want to listen to the people out here,” he said. “Just about every person I talk to has some kind of story about how they were mistreated [by law enforcement]. A lot of our civil rights were broken there and for the police to break the law as much as they did … we need someone to say why it happened.”
Rogentine declined to give specific examples of how law enforcement officers had violated the civil rights of residents and Hells Angels members, but said he would talk about it at Tuesday’s meeting. He did allege that members of law enforcement committed minor traffic violations, however, and that attorneys may be needed at the meeting just so “things are done right.”
Rogentine also wants to meet with county commissioners and law enforcement officials, who he said are not necessarily at fault for the alleged harassment.
“I don’t blame cops in this area,” he said. “I don’t blame Sheriff Lake. I think [the orders were] handed down from the federal level.”
Meanwhile, Pastor Eldon Galyen from New Life Community Church, which is adjacent to Lost Isle, had nothing but praise for law enforcement’s handling of the event.
He was so impressed that he and seven other area pastors are planning an appreciation banquet for law enforcement this fall.
“I was [at the church] every day and I thought [law enforcement] did an outstanding job,” he said. “I never felt so protected in my life.”
Galyen said he has experience with other local motorcycle groups and thinks most motorcycle gangs are misunderstood.
“The president of the local Christian motorcycle group attends our church and he’s great,” he said. “On the other hand, I think the Hells Angels name explains what they’re all about. We need to wake up to reality. I don’t care how polite they are, it’s what they do under that cover.”
As far as local motorists being harassed, Galyen said people who obeyed the laws didn’t have any problems.
“Although every move we made on our property was watched by [Hells Angels] sentinels, we didn’t have any problems whatsoever due to magnificent work of the law enforcement,” he said. “I just can’t speak highly enough of their effort – they deserve a tremendous pat on the back.”