GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. (AP) - A Labor Day weekend rally of what the federal government considers an outlaw motorcycle gang has frightened some residents of the Kansas City suburb of Grain Valley, but the head of the group's local chapter thinks police and locals are overreacting.
An estimated 2,000 members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club are expected to descend upon a racing facility on the edge of the community of roughly 13,000 residents in eastern Jackson County.
On Thursday, flocks of Bandidos exited Interstate 70 and roared down Grain Valley's main drag, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1zSYKOo) reported. Each group of motorcycles tended to have a police SUV or patrol car following along through the old downtown.
The rally is being held at Thunder Valley Sand Drags, adjacent to Valley Speedway on the east side of town. The Grain Valley City Council this summer voted to revoke the license for Valley Speedway to operate, effective Oct. 1, after years of noise complaints from neighbors.
Grain Valley Mayor Mike Todd said he wanted to dispel a rumor that speedway owner Dennis Shrout invited the Bandidos because of his long-running feud with the city. The mayor said he had known since late June - weeks before the council voted to revoke Shrout's permit - that the Bandidos were coming.
"I try to explain it's on private property. It's a private event. They can do it without us doing anything," Todd said.
Jeremiah Britt, who identified himself as president of the local Bandido chapter, insists the concerns of local residents and law enforcement are being overblown.
"We're getting together to visit, tell stories and catch up," he said. "It's like a family reunion."
The FBI says some members of the motorcycle club are involved in drug trafficking, guns and violent crime. An Internet search quickly turns up many recent arrests of members all over the country.
"You can make any group look bad with a few stories about a few members," Britt said. "Look at the NFL."