Thunderguards voluntarily close Wilmington clubhouse

 Thunderguards supporters protested the lawsuit filing in Wilmington last week (John Jankowski/for NewsWorks)

Thunderguards supporters protested the lawsuit filing in Wilmington last week (John Jankowski/for NewsWorks)

The Thunderguards Motorcycle Club is closing its Wilmington clubhouse.

Members voluntarily agreed on Wednesday to temporarily vacate the club pending a nuisance abatement complaint filed last month.

The City of Wilmington and Attorney General Beau Biden’s office filed the lawsuit in an effort to permanently shut down the club, located in the 2800 block of Northeast Blvd., which they described as being a hotbed for criminal activity.

“Over the next several weeks we will closely monitor this property in order to hold the defendants accountable to their obligations and we’ll continue to prepare for a hearing later this year to determine the permanent status of the site,” Biden said.

Although Thunderguards members and supporters protested the lawsuit at rallies earlier this month,  Thunderguards spokesman Kurtis Davis said they are cooperating with the investigation.

“We’re not going to stand in the way of the city,” Davis said. “We’re not going to try and say, ‘No you’re not coming in here.’ We’ve been peaceful. We’ve been obeying the law.”

According to Biden’s office, the East Side property has been the site of 15 shootings and five homicides in the past eight years.

Davis said the group, who must vacate the club by 5 p.m. Thursday, was misrepresented.

“We’re not an outlaw gang; we’re not gang members,” Davis said. “We’re men who just have a collective thing together and that’s just riding bikes. We love to ride.”

While a hearing to determine the property’s permanent status will be held later this year, Davis said that the Thunderguards hope to improve their reputation and prove to the community that they can do some good.

“We want the community and the city of Wilmington to be proud of who we are, because we are proud of who we are.” Davis said. “We’re the oldest African-American bike club in the county, started in 1965 by some men [who] loved riding. So we want to build on that.”

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