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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


They own that block

John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times

Richard West of the Hells Angels was arrested
Monday in a police raid on the club’s building
after a woman was found beaten at its door.
He was released uncharged.

After Police Search, Hells Angels Brace for Fight
Published: February 1, 2007

By the time a search warrant was issued late Monday, dozens of heavily armed police officers had spent hours in the biting cold outside a fortresslike East Village tenement that has served for decades as the New York headquarters of the Hells Angels. As sharpshooters looked on from rooftops and a police helicopter circled overhead, the standoff lasted all afternoon.

Officers were first dispatched to the building Monday morning, after the brutal beating of a woman who was found at its front door on Sunday night. They were especially cautious before entering because past confrontations with the motorcycle club have proved both embarrassing and expensive for the city.

Since 1999, the city has paid more than $800,000 to settle two lawsuits by the Hells Angels claiming that the police illegally raided their headquarters. And after Monday’s police action, the Hells Angels promised to be back in court after complaining about excessive force and what they said was the illegal detention of one of their members by the police.

Perhaps the biggest victory for the local Hells Angels came in the early 1990s, when they fended off a long effort by the city to seize their building because the police said it was being used for drug deals. In 1994, a Federal District Court jury in Manhattan found that the city had failed to make its case, and the Angels have remained in place at 77 East Third Street, their Harleys parked in rows outside.

“These men are remarkably sophisticated consumers of legal talent,” said Ronald L. Kuby, one of several lawyers who have represented the club over the years. Whatever the outcome of the group’s latest dispute with the police, the search has again highlighted an unlikely and sometimes volatile relationship between the secretive, mostly middle-aged Angels and their East Village neighbors.

The club owns the building and has occupied it since 1969.

“They feel like they own the block, and everybody else is just sort of here,” said one resident of the block, between First and Second Avenues, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of a violent reprisal. “They can be nice, but just don’t cross them.”

As long as you leave then alone, that is the safest block in New York, it's been that way since the 70's. The city geared up for mass arrests, called in ESU, and wound up looking stupid.

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