TIME Ferguson

See the Nation React to the Ferguson Decision

Citizens from L.A. to New York City staged protests following the announcement that a grand jury would not indict Officer Darren Wilson

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TIME Crime

Thousands Rally Across U.S. After Ferguson Decision

Ferguson Nationwide Protest
Marching in Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, after the Ferguson verdict on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014 Steven M. Falk—The Philadelphia Daily News/AP

Officer Darren Wilson will not be charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown

Thousands of people rallied late Monday in U.S. cities including Los Angeles and New York to passionately but peacefully protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer who killed a black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri.

They led marches, waved signs and shouted chants of “hands up, don’t shoot,” the refrain that has become a rallying cry in protests over police killings across the country.

The most disruptive demonstrations were in St. Louis and Oakland, California, where protesters flooded the lanes of freeways, milling about stopped cars with their hands raised in the air.

Activists had been planning to protest even before the nighttime announcement that Officer Darren Wilson will not be charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The racially charged case in Ferguson has inflamed tensions and reignited debates over police-community relations even in cities hundreds of miles from the predominantly black St. Louis suburb. For many staging protests Monday, the shooting was personal, calling to mind other galvanizing encounters with local law enforcement.

Police departments in several major cities braced for large demonstrations with the potential for the kind of violence that marred nightly protests in Ferguson after Brown’s killing. Demonstrators there vandalized police cars and buildings, hugged barricades and taunted officers with expletives Monday night while police fired smoke canisters and tear gas. Gunshots were heard on the streets and fires raged.

But police elsewhere reported that gatherings were mostly peaceful following Monday’s announcement.

As the night wore on, dozens of protesters in Oakland got around police and blocked traffic on Interstate 580. Officers in cars and on motorcycles were able to corral the protesters and cleared the highway in one area, but another group soon entered the traffic lanes a short distance away. Police didn’t immediately report any arrests.

A diverse crowd of several hundred protesters marched and chanted in St. Louis not far from the site of another police shooting, shutting down Interstate 44 for a time. A few cars got stuck in the midst of the protesters, who appeared to be leaving the vehicles alone. They chanted “hands up, don’t shoot” and “black lives matter.”

“There’s clearly a license for violence against minorities, specifically blacks,” said Mike Arnold, 38, a teacher. “It happens all the time. Something’s got to be done about it. Hopefully this will be a turning point.”

In Seattle, marching demonstrators stopped periodically to sit or lie down in city intersections, blocking traffic before moving on, as dozens of police officers watched.

Groups ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred people also gathered in Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Washington, D.C., where people held up signs and chanted “justice for Michael Brown” outside the White House.

“Mike Brown is an emblem (of a movement). This country is at its boiling point,” said Ethan Jury, a protester in Philadelphia, where hundreds marched downtown with a contingent of police nearby. “How many people need to die? How many black people need to die?”

In New York, the family of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man killed by a police chokehold earlier this year, joined the Rev. Al Sharpton at a speech in Harlem lamenting the grand jury’s decision. Later, several hundred people who had gathered in Manhattan’s Union Square marched peacefully to Times Square.

In Los Angeles, which was rocked by riots in 1992 after the acquittal of police officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, police officers were told to remain on duty until released by their supervisors. About 100 people gathered in Leimert Park, and a group of religious leaders held a small news conference demanding changes in police policies.

A group of about 200 demonstrators marched toward downtown.

The marchers shut down the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 110 in downtown Los Angeles late Monday night, according to City News Service. People stood and lay in the northbound lanes and the center divider.

Another splinter group of about 30 people marched all the way to Beverly Hills, where they lay down in an intersection.

Chris Manor, with Utah Against Police Brutality, helped organize an event in Salt Lake City that attracted about 35 people.

“There are things that have affected us locally, but at the same time, it’s important to show solidarity with people in other cities who are facing the very same thing that we’re facing,” Manor said.

At Cleveland’s Public Square, at least a dozen protesters’ signs referenced police shootings that have shaken the community there, including Saturday’s fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a fake gun at a Cleveland playground when officers confronted him.

In Denver, where a civil jury last month found deputies used excessive force in the death of a homeless street preacher, clergy gathered at a church to discuss the decision, and dozens of people rallied in a downtown park with a moment of silence.

___

Associated Press writers Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco; Jim Salter and Alan Zagier in St. Louis; Tami Abdollah in Los Angeles; Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio; Sean Carlin in Philadelphia; Deepti Hajela in New York; Michelle L. Price in Salt Lake City; and Joshua Lederman in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

TIME Crime

Wrongfully Convicted California Man Released After 36 Years

Hanline waits in a cell during a hearing at Superior Court in Ventura
Michael Hanline waits in a cell during a hearing at Superior Court in Ventura, California on November 24, 2014. Mario Anzuoni—Reuters

He was the longest-serving wrongfully convicted inmate in the state

A California man will leave prison Monday after 36 year behind bars, after new DNA evidence proved his innocence.

Michael Hanline, 68, will be released after DNA from the crime scene failed to match Hanline’s, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 1980, Hanline was convicted of the first-degree murder of J.T. McGarry, also known as Mike Mathers, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Police reports that cast doubt on the testimony of Hanline’s then-girlfriend Mary Bischoff were not disclosed to defense attorneys at the time, even though they could have been used to discredit Bischoff or indicate that Hanline may have been framed.

Bischoff’s testimony was instrumental in convicting Hanline– she testified that McGarry owed her money, that there was a contract out on his life, and that Hanline said he would “blow his brains out.” She also said she saw Hanline leaving the house with a gun and come back muddy, even though Hanline says he was home that night.

Bischoff was smoking PCP-laced pot and using cocaine on the night in question, and she was also on drugs at the time she gave her testimony, leading the judge to adjourn court.

Hanline will be released from prison, but will have to wear a GPS ankle monitor. He is also expected to appear back in court in February for a pretrial hearing, because prosecutors have not yet decided whether to re-try him.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” Hanline’s wife Sandee Hanline said. “I prayed that this day would come.”

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME charles manson

Exclusive: Sharon Tate’s Sister Says Murderers Like Manson Should Have No Marriage Rights

Sharon Tate: Recollection
Sharon Tate: Recollection

Debra Tate is the author of Sharon Tate: Recollection.

Charles Manson took away my sister's right to happiness, and to life itself—he shouldn't be allowed his own

“How do you feel about Charles Manson being allowed to marry?” A flood of thoughts and emotions immediately surfaced when Time asked me the question. I am Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate, who was brutally murdered by Manson and some of his followers in 1969.

One thing comes immediately to mind: what my mother would have had to say on the subject. She would be outraged and say something to the effect of, “Manson has no right to marry, as he took away my daughter’s right to happiness, and to life itself.”

I feel exactly the same way.

The state of California has long been viewed as a liberal state, but at what point is liberal too liberal? Those who commit such extraordinarily heinous crimes against humanity should be asked to forfeit their own rights to the pleasures of life—which include marriage, the birth of children, and family relations of any kind—as they denied their victims all of these most precious gifts. Why should we as a society allow those who take away life the privilege to enjoy all that life has to offer? I really struggle with this.

At the same time it proves a point I have been trying to make to the general public for the last ten years. That being, the very fact Charles Manson can convince a 26-year-old woman to be his wife shows the power he still possesses over the young and impressionable individuals who are looking for some bizarre form of leadership.

It doesn’t matter how old or how sick he becomes. The fact is that this young woman runs a Facebook page for Charles Manson that currently has over 80,000 “likes.

So should we allow someone like Charles Manson the privilege of getting married? Absolutely not.

Debra Tate is the author of the recently released Sharon Tate: Recollection.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Laws

New Video Released for Right-to-Die Advocate Brittany Maynard’s 30th Birthday

Maynard, who died Nov. 1, became the face of the right-to-die movement

A new video released by supporters of the so-called Death With Dignity movement shows Brittany Maynard, on what would’ve been her 30th birthday, advocating for expanded right-to-die legislation around the United States.

The advocacy group Compassion & Choices has released the video, made in August, nearly three weeks after she died Nov. 1. Maynard had moved from California to Oregon in order to take advantage of a state law that allows terminally ill patients to obtain life-ending medication. Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, she quickly became the face of the right-to-die movement, releasing several videos that advocated for more states to legalize the practice.

MORE: Brittany Maynard Could Revive the Stalled ‘Death With Dignity’ Movement

Only five states currently allow physicians to give drugs to people who have terminal illnesses. In the last few weeks, lawmakers have drafted or advanced right-to-die legislation in Colorado, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

TIME Education

What California’s College Tuition Hike Says About the Future of Higher Education

CA: UC Berkeley Students Rally Against Tuition Fee Hikes
Students rallied to demonstrate against the university's plan to increase tuition fees over the next five years at the University of California, Berkeley campus on Nov. 18, 2014, in Berkeley, Calif. Alex Milan Tracy—Sipa USA

As state funding dwindles, students at public universities are being asked to pick up more of the tab

When does a public university system become one in name only? That’s the question facing California as officials in charge of the state’s prestigious, but financially-struggling university system clash over how to keep it afloat.

On Nov. 20, the regents that control the University of California system will vote on a proposal to increase tuition at its 10 campuses by as much as 5% a year for the next five years. This year’s tuition and fees for in-state students is $12,192, which could rise to $15,564 by the 2019-20 school year under the proposal. The plan was conceived and put forward by Janet Napolitano, who took over the UC system in 2013.

The fight over the tuition increase pits Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona and federal homeland security chief, against Governor Jerry Brown, a popular figure in the state who was just re-elected with a sizable mandate. Brown has said he opposes increasing tuition, and would restore some state funding cut during the recession only if it stays flat. Brown is a regent and is among a handful of those on the board who have already indicated they will reject Napolitano’s proposal.

“There is a game of chicken,” says Hans Johnson, a higher education expert at the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California. “It’s not clear to me at all how it’s going to turn out.”

Underlying the clash of big personalities is a philosophical debate about the changing funding models for public universities. In 1960, California created a lofty master plan that said higher education should be free or very low-cost for residents. “We’ve moved away from that pretty dramatically,” says Johnson. “It’s almost traumatic for California to think about it.” In recent decades, the state has decreased the share of overall public higher education costs it pays for and the system has become increasingly dependent on student contributions, among other sources, for the difference. In the 2001-02 academic year, in-state tuition and fees for UC campuses was $3,429, about one-third of the cost today. Similar trends have played out in state university systems elsewhere as well.

The recession accelerated public schools’ reliance on private money. At UC, the system receives some $460 million less per year in state funds than it did in the 2007-08 school year.

“As a political matter, state officials have made the judgment they don’t want to pay for higher education for our citizens,” says David Plank, an economist at Policy Analysis for California Education, a non-partisan research center. “What were once public universities are now private universities that receive some subsidy from the states.”

Napolitano says that if UC is to remain a world-class educational and research institution, it needs more money, no matter the source. And she says students and families will need to fill the gap left by the state. The proposed tuition increase would affect only around half of the student body. Thanks to income-based federal and state grants, about 55% of UC students pay no tuition.

Gavin Newsom, California’s lieutenant governor, has said he and Brown were blind-sided by the tuition increase proposal. The governor’s office has said Napolitano’s plan could void a plan Brown has endorsed to increase state funding 4 percent per year if tuition stays flat. Napolitano has said she never made a deal and if was one was struck before she took charge, she hasn’t found any record of it. “It was unilateral. It wasn’t anything we agreed to,” says Steve Montiel, a spokesman for Napolitano.

On the eve of today’s meeting of the regents planning board, the speaker of the California state assembly reportedly proposed directing $50 million in additional state general funds to UC to stave off increased costs for students. The proposal followed student protests at at least two UC campuses this week.

TIME Culture

Anywhere But Here

California flag
Getty Images

Our elders in California tell us this state is a global leader in higher education, but kids today can’t find space at public universities, and those who do are running up huge debts

At a moment like this, younger Californians should read Mona Simpson.

The novelist, a UCLA English professor, may be best known as Steve Jobs’ biological sister; she told the world that the Apple chief’s final words were, “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” But she first made her reputation with the novel Anywhere But Here, first published in 1986 but still awfully current.

It’s a classic California tale – and a horror story about being young and being the responsibility of someone who is herself irresponsible.

In the novel, a mother, Adele August, relocates with her young daughter, Ann, from Wisconsin to L.A. The mother has dreams of wealth for herself, and Hollywood ambitions for her daughter. But Adele is desperate and delusional. She breaks virtually every promise she makes to her daughter. And so the roles reverse. Adele’s age may make her a grown-up, but she is pure adolescent. Her daughter, even as a child, must be the adult.

I’ve long carried a torch for the daughter, and not just because Natalie Portman played her (alongside Susan Sarandon) in the 1999 movie version. Ann’s exasperation with her mother’s broken promises – and her mother’s inability to acknowledge her own irresponsibility – expresses perfectly the fix that younger Californians find themselves in.

Our elders in California tell us this state is a global leader in higher education, but kids today can’t find space at public universities, and those who do are running up huge debts. We are told California is deeply committed to public education, but our elders fund those schools as if this were a poor Southern state. Our politicians trumpet recent statistics showing California leading the nation in job creation, but our unemployment rate remains well above the national average.

In the face of broken promises, the generations in California have reversed roles: Younger people behave more like grown-ups. Younger generations (I’m a Gen Xer) are driving and smoking less, and committing fewer crimes than our elders did. Our elders got more stable retirement benefits and the big run-up in their real estate values, and protected themselves from higher property taxes. We got bigger college debts and housing debts and tax bills, and are far more likely to be on budgets.

Our leadership reflects this upside-down reality. Elected officials are supposed to be creative and future-oriented, but ours are deeply conservative – in the classic sense of preserving yesterday’s gains for yesterday’s youth. Our governor, who just got reelected without bothering to offer an agenda for his next term, is 76, while our U.S. senators are 81 and 73. Even our rock stars skew older, certainly much older than their critics, slaving away on websites. At protests around the state, you’ll often find the protestors are older than the cops keeping watch.

Is this why California sometimes feels so stuck? While those who are supposed to offer new ideas are too wedded to the past, those charged with imposing new limits are young and ambitious. Voters just confirmed Goodwin Liu, 44, and Tino Cuéllar, 42, to the California Supreme Court. Is this inversion the reason we are so restrained, adopting regulations for almost everything, from grocery bags and watering plants to the hours of high school football practice?

The most frustrating part of this moment is that there’s no escaping it. In Anywhere But Here, Ann would like to run away from her mother, but she can’t. Adele has the keys to the car, literally. After they fight, Adele offers to buy her daughter ice cream. That feels familiar, too. Our elders have accumulated such wealth that we need them – to help us buy houses or fund the educations of our kids (their grandkids).

Adele never really explains herself. Being the mother, the elder, absolves her. Gov. Brown, in a late-campaign appearance, let loose an Adele-like rant after a younger reporter asked why he hadn’t offered a fourth-term agenda. “This is my 12th year” as governor, Brown said. “No one’s ever had 12 years of constant press conferences and discussions and letters and what do they call those things – state of the state speeches. Three separate inaugurations. So what don’t you know? What don’t you know that you think I could tell you now in front of all these people?”

It’s possible to fight this sort of attitude, but have you ever won an argument with an older Californian? As Ann, the daughter, says: ”Strangers almost always love my mother. And even if you hate her, can’t stand her, even if she’s ruining your life, there’s something about her, some romance, some power. She’s absolutely herself. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never get to her.”

When will California’s elders lose their hold over us? Never. “And when she dies,” says Ann of her mother, “the world will be flat, too simple, reasonable, too fair.”

Joe Mathews is California and innovation editor for Zocalo Public Square, for which he writes the Connecting California column.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME ebola

California Nurses Strike Over Ebola Preparedness

Nurses Strike
Registered nurses and supporters protest outside of a Kaiser Permanente facility in San Francisco, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. Jeff Chiu—AP

A lack of preparedness for possible Ebola cases is symptomatic of a more general erosion in patient care standards, claims National Nurses United

Almost 20,000 nurses went on strike in California on Tuesday, ahead of national protests planned for Wednesday over what union leaders deem a lack of protection for nurses who might treat Ebola patients.

The two-day strike is organized by National Nurses United and will affect 88 hospitals in the Golden State, 86 of which are owned by Kaiser Permanente, Reuters reports. The larger national strike will involve 100,000 nurses in 15 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

“Inadequate preparedness for Ebola symbolizes the erosion of patient care standards generally,” a spokesman for National Nurses United told Reuters, adding that numerous other patient care issues, including under-staffing, have been “stonewalled and ignored.” National Nurses United is in the midst of contract talks.

In rebuttal to the union, an ad published in the Sacramento Bee by Kaiser over the weekend called the strikes counterproductive to making sure that U.S. hospitals are ready for any future Ebola cases.

“There is never a good time for a strike,” it read. “Calling one now, just as we are entering the flu season, and when the nation and our members are concerned about the risk of Ebola, seems particularly irresponsible.”

Several U.S. agencies and groups, including National Nurses United, have jostled over where to put fault after two nurses who treated an Ebola patient at a Dallas hospital contracted the virus. Both nurses have recovered, and there are no current Ebola cases in the U.S.

[Reuters]

TIME photography

LIFE Rides With Hells Angels, 1965

In 1965, LIFE photographer Bill Ray spent weeks with the Hells Angels, but his amazing photos never ran in the magazine. Fifty years later, here they are

From Jesse James and Butch Cassidy to Scarface and Tony Soprano, outlaws have always held a singularly ambiguous place in America’s popular imagination: we fear and loathe the gangster’s appetite for violence; we envy and covet his radical freedom. In early 1965, LIFE photographer Bill Ray and writer Joe Bride spent several weeks with a gang that, to this day, serves as a living, brawling embodiment of our schizoid relationship with the rebel: Hells Angels.

Here, along with a gallery of remarkable photographs that were shot for LIFE but never ran in the magazine, Ray and Bride recall their days and nights spent with Buzzard, Hambone, Big D and other Angels (as well as their equally tough “old ladies”) at a time when the roar of Harleys and the sight of long-haired bikers was still new and — for the average, law-abiding citizen — utterly unfathomable. The day-to-day existence of these leather-clad hellions, after all, was as foreign to most of LIFE magazine’s millions of readers as the lives of, say, Borneo’s headhunters, or nomads of the Gobi Desert.

“This was a new breed of rebel,” Ray told LIFE.com, recalling his time with the Angels. “They didn’t have jobs. They absolutely despised everything that most Americans value and strive for — stability, security. They rode their bikes, hung out in bars for days at a time, fought with anyone who messed with them. They were self-contained, with their own set of rules, their own code of behavior. It was extraordinary to be around.”

Ray spent some of the time with the Angels on a ride from San Bernardino (about 40 miles east of Los Angeles) to Bakersfield, Calif., for a major motorcycle rally. The Berdoo-Bakersfield run is a trip of only about 130 miles — but in 1965, it would offer enough moments (both placid and violent) for Ray to paint a rare, revelatory portrait of the world’s most legendary motorcycle club in its early days. The way in which the story came about, meanwhile, was as dramatic and unexpected as Bill Ray’s pictures.

[To see more of Bill Ray’s photography, visit BillRay.com]

“I’d done a story on Big Daddy Roth,” writer Joe Bride recalled, “a genuine L.A. phenomenon and legend in the Southern California car culture. He had a lucrative business designing hot rod-themed decals and cartoon figures. While I was wrapping up the story with Big Daddy, the Angels were in the news. They were accused of terrorizing a small central California town and being major growers and distributors of pot. Big Daddy said he knew a lot of Angels, did business with them and that they were more lost nomads than real criminals. After meeting them, by the way, my take on them was a little bit closer to the prevailing opinion than to Big Daddy’s. . . .”

“I told Big Daddy Roth I’d like to meet the Angels, talk to them about doing a story,” Bride said. “It would be a chance for them to get some recognition, and explain why they did what they did. Not long after the story on Big Daddy ran, in late 1964, Roth called and said, ‘They’ll meet you — with conditions.'” Bride met two Angels at Big Daddy’s store. They blindfolded him, put him in a car and drove into the mountains. At a bar “with what looked like 100 bikes parked outside,” no longer blindfolded, Bride met a stocky, long-haired Angel who asked if he shot pool. They played some nine-ball, and Bride beat the guy two out of three games. Bride then negotiated, there in the bar, a relationship where the Hells Angels agreed to allow him and Bill Ray to shadow them. Bride sat back, had a few beers, and then they drove him back to L.A. Not long after that, Ray and Bride began reporting the story.

Ray and Bride spent more than a month with the Angels in the spring of ’65, “mostly on weekends,” Ray remembers, “but the Bakersfield run was around the clock, three days and nights. In Bakersfield, I slept on the floor of the Blackboard Cafe — the bar that the Angels basically lived in while they were there.”

bill_ray_hells_angels_19651

“I got along with the Angels,” Ray says today. “I got to like some of them very much, and I think they liked me. I accepted them as they were, and they accepted me. You know, by their standards, I looked pretty funny. Just look at that picture of me (right). That’s some kind of a plaid shirt I’ve got on,” he says, incredulity mixing with amusement, “but that was the best I could do to try to fit in!”

“One thing about the Angels that I found especially fascinating,” Ray says, “and something I’d never given much thought to before I started photographing them, was the role that the women played in the club. The girls weren’t there in chains, or against their will. They had to want that life if they were going to be accepted by the Angels. These guys were kings of the road. I don’t think they ever felt they had to look around for girls. Girls came, and they had their pick. Then they’d tell them where to sit and what to do.”

One of Ray’s photos, in particular — slide 14, featuring a group of women (including one with what appears to be a bandaged, broken nose) hanging out in a bar while the bikers gather in a separate room — is especially illuminating. “The men were having a business meeting,” Bill Ray recalls, “and the women were definitely not invited there. When those guys were busy, the women just sat and waited. They’d smoke, drink beer, gossip, but they were pretty much just on ice until the meeting broke up. I remember, too, that many of them were surprisingly young: teenagers, or in their early twenties. They didn’t look young, though. Riding around on the back of a Harley at a hundred miles an hour in all sorts of weather will age you, I guess.”

Nowadays, when a hugely popular TV show like Sons of Anarchy brings the violence and twisted moral code of the outlaw-biker aesthetic into living rooms every week, it’s easy to forget how thoroughly (and willfully) the Angels shocked and frightened “polite” society five decades ago.

“Some of them are pure animals,” Birney Jarvis, a one-time Hells Angel who later became a newspaper police reporter, once said. “They’d be animals in any society. These guys . . . should have been born a hundred years ago, then they would have been gunfighters.”

One of the images in this gallery — slide 8, featuring two Angels locked in what appears a passionate kiss — is a graphic, surprising example of something that Bill Ray says struck him forcefully at the time: namely, the Angels’ apparent need to shock people. “That’s outside the Blackboard Cafe,” Ray remembers. “That’s the sort of thing they would do all the time, just to freak people out. As if to say, What’re you looking at? You got a problem with this?

“It was exhilarating being around them, no question about it,” Ray says. “You just never knew what they were going to do. You’re always kind of on edge, because — think about it — these people have a lot of time to waste. They don’t punch a clock, so they fill the time drinking beer, smoking pot, screwing around. There was always a sense that anything could happen at any minute. Things could go from lighthearted to tense to really scary pretty goddamn quick.”

Why wasn’t the Angels story published in LIFE, after Ray and Bride spent so much time not merely reporting the story, but putting themselves at serious risk inside this notoriously insular, die-hard gang? According to Bride, “George Hunt [LIFE’s managing editor] said he didn’t want to run a piece on ‘those smelly bastards.'” Bill Ray, meanwhile, recalls that “a lot of stories were killed back then because of one remark by an editor who didn’t like the idea. George said we weren’t going to run it, and that was that. I wasn’t in the meeting,” he adds with a laugh. “Editors went to great lengths to keep photographers out of discussions like that. They knew the argument would never end.”

Ray vividly remembers the moment he truly felt accepted, or as accepted as he was ever going to be, by the Angels. In a confrontation reminiscent of a famous scene in Hunter S. Thompson’s classic 1966 book, Hell’s Angels, when Thompson was almost stomped to death by bikers, Ray says that “he got in a bit of trouble one day, in a bar. Some bikers — guys who weren’t Angels — saw me taking pictures. They didn’t like it, but they didn’t realize that I was a sort of mascot of the real tough guys. I’d been shooting the Angels for maybe a week at this point. I was about to be attacked by one of these guys when a Hells Angel standing next to me made it clear that if a hair on my head was touched, the other guy was a dead man. From that point on, I felt . . . well, not safe, because I never felt safe with those guys, but as if I’d passed a test, somehow.”

Ray stresses that while the Angels he spent time with smoked pot, and he once saw them “beat the holy hell” out of some other bikers behind a bar, he “never saw these guys involved in anything deeply illegal. Then again, they always had plenty of money for gas and beer. They lived on their bikes — that is, when they weren’t hanging out in bars. Their money had to come from somewhere, but none of them ever worked.”

(Today the FBI contends that the Angels and other gangs — specifically, the Pagans, Outlaws MC and Bandidos — are deeply involved in extortion, drug dealing, trafficking stolen goods and other criminal activities.)

“There’s a romance to the idea of the biker on the open road,” Ray says. “It’s similar to the romance that people attach to cowboys and the West — which, of course, is totally out of proportion to the reality of riding fences and punching cows. But there’s something impressive about these Harley-Davidsons and bikers heading down the highway. You see the myth played out in movies, like Easy Rider, which came out a few years after I photographed the Angels. You know, the trail never ends for the cowboy, and the open road never ends for the Angels. They just ride. Where they’re going hardly matters. It’s not an easy life, but it’s what they choose. It’s theirs. And everyone else can get out of the way or go to hell.”

Ben Cosgrove is the Editor of LIFE.com

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