Tucker Carlson gives speech at Sonny Barger's funeral in Stockton
It was a mismatch for the ages: Generationally wealthy San Franciscan Tucker Carlson speaking in front of the Hells Angels, America's most famous outlaw motorcycle gang.
On Saturday, the Fox News pundit took to the stage at the funeral of Sonny Barger, the man who founded the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels in 1957. Barger, 83, died of liver cancer at his Livermore home in late June.
The funeral was heavily attended; thousands of bikers descended on Stockton for the 6-hour affair. According to Carlson, he was invited to the funeral and "cleared [his] schedule" to get from "Maine to Stockton."
In his speech, Carlson said that he and his college roommate "had always been fans of Sonny Barger." Carlson went to boarding schools in Switzerland and Rhode Island before attending Trinity College, a private liberal arts school in Connecticut. He then quoted Barger's final statement to the public, which was released after his death.
"'Stay loyal, remain free, and always value honor.' And I thought to myself, if there is a phrase that sums up more perfectly what I want to be, what I aspire to be and the kind of man that I respect, I can't think of a phrase that sums it up more perfectly than that," Carlson said.
"I want to pay tribute to the man who spoke those words," he later added.
Barger was found guilty of multiple crimes over the course of his life, ranging from heroin possession to assault. In the 1980s, he was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiring to violate federal explosives and firearms laws. Prosecutors said he was planning to help murder rival gang members. He was also convicted of aggravated assault in 2003 after badly beating his then-wife. He was charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and racketeering, among other felonies, but wasn't convicted.
Although law enforcement expressed concern Barger's funeral may devolve into violence, the event at Stockton's 99 Speedway did not lead to any arrests. San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow told KCRA that his department spent $400,000 staffing the funeral.
"I made it clear we did everything to stop this from happening," Withrow said.