>The RIA Incident

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Usually I focus on Northern Virginia in this blog, but I found an incident worth writing about in NE DC.

In 1973 the DC chapter of the Pagans had a club house at 3423 Eastern Ave. in Mt. Ranier, MD. A few blocks away, in the Woodridge neighborhood, they had picked RIA at 3112 Rhode Island Ave., NE as their hangout after being banned from two other nearby bars. The bar sits right on the border between DC and PG County in a regular middle class neighborhood once known for its country music clubs. However, the area was decaying and transitioning from a majority white to a majority black neighborhood causing racial tensions.

The Pagans were no strangers to racial violence. In August 1966 they had a protracted battle with black residents in Southeast at the 1023 club (see Mark Opsasnick’s book Capitol Rock). Link Wray was playing one night as locals attacked the club and assaulted patrons. During the 68 riots one member of the Pagans was arrested at 14th and U shooting at rioters from a car. By 1973 DC had been through a massive transition to “Chocolate City” and was rapidly loosing its white population. This was not unusual for cities at the time as white residents fled integration and cities devasted by the start of deindustrialization.

Residents of the neighborhood had been complaining about drug dealing and rowdiness going on at the club. One person alleged that a member of the Pagans had a needle in his arm in a car outside the club, but their usual trip was “beer, and lots of it”. Some residents claimed the Pagans were threatening them with racial epithets and displaying guns.

The real trouble at RIA started in July 1973 when a white woman and black woman got into an argument inside the bar. The dispute moved outside and two Pagans came to her aid, then a group of black men joined on the side of the black woman. The brawl involved about 40 people. One black guy named Michael Edward Jones, 23 of 3124 Newton St., NE was there and got involved in the fight. He lived around the corner from the Pagans club house and two blocks from RIA and it was not his first encounter with them. About a week earlier he had been run over by a car driven by a member of the Pagans. As the brawl got heated, he somehow got a hold of a stop sign and cracked it over the head of Bob Brown, the DC Pagans president. Brown died from his injuries. Jones was arrested for the murder of Brown, but a grand jury refused to indict him.

An enterprising Post reporter covering the story, gained admittance to the Pagans club house to interview members, but encountered a man named “tireiron” and thought better of it. He did interview a biker named Richard Sebastian two doors down who claimed not to be a member, but he did offer a warning that the Pagans were “stone crazy”. He said everyone carried a gun in the area and “something has to be done over Bob Brown’s death. He was righteous cat — he had to be, he was the president”.

The tension got the attention of the FBI, which was worried about retailiation and racial violence. The FBI issued a bulletin tha the Pagans had purchased guns and explosives in Florida and were planning to retaliate in September. PG Police raided a members home in September in Beltsville and found a cache of weapons, narcotics, and a copper still.

After the incident a group of white men shot at a group of black youths from a station wagon and two Pagans assaulted a black man in Woodridge. The shooting was never linked to the Pagans and the assault victim didn’t show up to court. Residents fought the renewal of the liquor license for RIA, but the owner, Robert Pluebell, prevailed and gained his liquor license.

Apparently, the bar closed sometime later, but the building is still standing and was recently the offices for a surveying company.
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About Our Redneck Past

You'll find my name on the tail of my shirt.
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6 Responses to >The RIA Incident

  1. D. R. says:

    It was less then twenty people involved in that fight at the Ria . Mike (owner) locked a lot of people in . The fight started in the Bathroom when Bob Brown ( Lil’ Bob ) was in the bathroom arguing with Big Bunny (his ole’ lady ) A black woman came in and wouldn’t leave to let them to finish a heated argument .The Black woman started a fight with Bunny and it moved out side . Mike locked the door when he saw where it was going .It was one on one til two other black women jumped in . Bob and Danny Magill ( Tuffy ) pulled them off but by then approx. 17 black men were coming from across the street . The recollection becomes a little cloudy . Bob and Tuffy were fighting pretty much at each others back for about two minutes . Tuffy turned to yell to Bob but the Bus stop sign was coming down on Bob from behind at the same time . He never saw it . He lived for seven days in the hospital before he died It was not a racialy motivated fight when it broke out. .two different crowds. Pagans had been sharing that bar for 12 years or more . Michael Jones who carried the sign was Run over by Tuffy .Tuffy ran for his truck but his wife removed what he was looking for. She said she had a bad feelin before they left . So he drove hjis truck down the hill but they were almost on him, so tuffy aimed for the one with the sign . He hit about 5 of them . Michael Jones was later arrested when Jones went to the hospital with a large knife wound . Neither of which came from the Pagans . He had been charged with armed robbery and heroin charges a month prior , but was given immunity to say that he killed Bob ,
    ” but that man ran me over with his truck ” . Danny ( Tuffy ) Magill was given 15 years. 5yrs probation , if he didn’t violate his sentence , he would be clear from the system . if he did violate he would have to do all 15 years . He did not violate . Michael Jones I heard was stabbed to death in prison .He was in for non related charges . The club house in DC referred to was ” Fat Cat’s ” house . He was a member of the Pagans . It was more of a party house . He was no shot caller , and their was no retaliation ordered . There has never been a DC club house . Bob Brown was president of the Maryland Chapter and Danny Magill was vice president .

  2. D. R. says:

    Fat Cat’s House referred to in the article is in Maryland on Eastern ave . He was on the Maryland side .

  3. Danny was the Sgt at Arms not the VP of the Pagans..

    • dana risk says:

      Danny Magill ( Tuff Stuff) was vice president , and then President when his best friend Bob Brown ( lil Bob) was killed at the Ria .Danny is my dad ,and you were too young to have been around back then . You weren’t born when all that happened . No disrespect but somebody has misinformed you .

  4. dana risk says:

    Also there has never been a DC club house .

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