The interior ministry of the north-German state Schleswig-Holstein has made membership in local chapters of the Hell's Angels and Bandidos biker gangs illegal.
Police remove the sign at the Hell's Angels headquarters in Flensburg
Over 300 police officers raided the headquarters of the "Hell's Angels MC Charter Flensburg" und "Bandidos MC Probationary Chapter Neumuenster" on Thursday morning, as a ban against the groups came into effect.
Several apartments belonging to members of the groups were also searched to collect evidence relating to the clubs' possessions. All told, 12 members of the Flensburg Hell's Angels and 17 members of the Neumuenster Bandidos have been banned from publically belonging to their respective clubs. The clubs are considered deep rivals, and there have been several instances of violence between the two groups around Germany.
According to Klaus Schlie, interior minister of Schleswig-Holstein, both clubs are in violation of penal law and go against the constitutional order. He said the goal of the clubs is to display criminal force in a certain area and to claim territorial rights over the other club using armed violence.
Items confiscated from the Hell's Angels headquarters
"This isn't about harmless motorcycle clubs whose members meet each other for friendly trips on the weekend," Schlie said, adding that, despite the bans against the clubs, "we can't rule out the possibility of further violent conflicts."
In the future, police will be able to confiscate biker vests that display the respective clubs' logos and arrest any person publically displaying his allegiance to either group.
Violent confrontations between biker gangs have escalated in Schleswig-Holstein in recent months.
Earlier this week, two members of the Bandidos and one person who supported the group were arrested in connection with an attack in January. The Bandidos reportedly stabbed two members of a group of Hell's Angels supporters at a fast food restaurant.
Other chapters of the Hell's Angels still exist in towns outside Flensburg, and while the Bandidos still exist in Germany, the next local chapter is not in the state of Schleswig-Holstein.
Editor: Susan Houlton