Local law enforcement officials and residents talk Hells Angels in Barnum and Cloquet

The stepped-up show of law enforcement may be as noticeable as the hundreds of Hells Angels motorcyclists that will roll into Carlton and neighboring counties in the coming weeks.

Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake talks with reporters Tuesday evening at a community meeting in Barnum. The meeting was held to discuss the upcoming Hells Angels gathering in the Carlton area. [Lisa Baumann/]

The stepped-up show of law enforcement may be as noticeable as the hundreds of Hells Angels motorcyclists that will roll into Carlton and neighboring counties in the coming weeks.

"You may see [Hells Angels] members from the state, U.S. and maybe from other countries, Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake told about 50 residents at a community meeting in Barnum Tuesday. "You will also see an increased number of squad cars, and they may be from other places. We don't have the manpower to cover it [ourselves]."

While the Hells Angels' official visit runs from July 29 to Aug. 2, people will start seeing more of a law enforcement presence beginning July 27.

With half a dozen or more law enforcement agencies working together for the past six months to keep the public safe while the motorcycle gang converges in Carlton, officials at the meeting said they feel prepared.

"The presence of law enforcement in uniform has been a deterrent," Lake said about some of the worst behavior known to occur during Hells Angels annual summer gatherings that take place before the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota.


Last year in Missoula, Mont., for example, only a few incidents were reported, Lake said.

"There were a few assaults and some traffic issues," she said. "That's pretty uneventful."

Carlton County Deputy Dan Danielson added, however, that other incidents reported at previous events - sexual assaults, drug crimes and even murder - are in the back of their minds as well.

"We're not here to scare people and make them stay in their houses with locked doors," he said. "We want people to go about their daily business while they are here."

But, as Cloquet Police Deputy Chief Terry Hill said, some of the trouble comes when the public becomes overly inquisitive, wanting to make a name for themselves or messing with motorcycles that don't belong to them.

A woman asked how cautious she should be during this time.

"If you do see a problem or something suspicious," Lake told her,"don't feel bad about [dialing] 911. It's our job to investigate those situations."

People who attended the meetings also asked about the possibility of problems with a rival motorcycle group known as The Outlaws nearby in Wisconsin.


"We are aware and working with law enforcement in Wisconsin to monitor that," Lake said.

Officials also confirmed again for residents that the Lost Isle bar in Carlton has been rented by the club during that time and that it will be closed to the public. Lake also confirmed that members of the Hells Angels have rented hotel rooms at Black Bear Casino Resort and will be staying at other campgrounds and hotels in the area.

Cheryl Fitzgerald, owner of the Arts Café in Moose Lake, said she heard members of the motorcycle club do "a lot of charity work."

"They're people too," she said. "Don't be afraid."

While Danielson agreed, he countered that they can't lose sight of the fact that over the years and recently there has been documented criminal activity.

"We're very hopeful everything will go smoothly," Danielson said. "I think if we're respectful of them, they'll be respectful of us."

They had another community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Cloquet Middle School.

What To Read Next
Get Local