The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is an American motorcycle rally held annually in Sturgis, South Dakota, for ten days usually starting the first Friday in August. In 2015 the city of Sturgis officially expanded the dates to have the rally start on the Friday before the first full week of August and end on the second Sunday. In 2016, Sturgis City Council passed a resolution to begin the Rally on the first Friday in August every year. It was begun in 1938 by a group of Indian Motorcycle riders and was originally held for stunts and races. Attendance has historically been around 500,000 people, reaching a high of over 700,000 in 2015. The event generates around $800 million in revenue
Ignoring the virus, more than 250,000 people are expected to show up next week to the Sturgis, South Dakota, motorcycle rally, which business leaders pressured the City Council to hold despite the objections of more than 60% of Sturgis residents, who fear their town will become a hot spot. The rally this year will run from August 7 through August 16.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the doctor advising the White House on the coronavirus. She warns that we are entering a “new phase” of the pandemic, when the virus is everywhere and is spreading at such a pace that we could see more than 300,000 deaths by the end of the year. On Saturday, the national daily death toll from Covid-19 reached 1,198, exceeding 1000 for the sixth day in a row.
It's impossible to predict how many people will catch the virus in Sturgis, but the event is guaranteed to create spikes in large parts of the country, simply due to the fact that attendees come from all over the country.
One of the groups that will be in attendance is Bikers for Trump, an organization that has an estimated 30,000 members. Starting in April of 2016, founder Chris Cox decided that his 30,000-member group, “Bikers for Trump,” would no longer be just a support organization focused primarily on holding independent rallies for the Republican front-runner. It would transform into a volunteer security force, patrolling Trump’s events to identify protesters for paid security and police, forming barriers to protect Trump supporters, and playing backup to the cops as they removed unwanted attendees from the campaign’s rallies.
Bikers for Trump became a protective force, and it’s not alone. Another group, Lions of Trump, popped up online after Chicago to scour social media for likely protesters and expose them. Its website prominently quotes the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. At a Trump rally in Wisconsin in late March, a local Tea Party activist arrived several hours early and assisted a campaign security consultants in identifying area progressive activists, who were then removed. And Citizens for Trump, an all-purpose grassroots support group, has deployed a team scouring social media for death threats to Trump, while a handful of its members tour the country on the lookout for protesters at rallies.
While security experts warn that untrained vigilante groups could cause more harm than good, and even expose a candidate to charges of negligence in the case of violence, Trump’s campaign and paid consultants are doing little to discourage Bikers for Trump or other security volunteers.
“I immediately thought of the Rolling Stones' use of the Hells Angels to provide security and crowd control at their infamous Altamont concert!” said Steve Amitay, the executive director and general counsel of the National Association of Security Companies, of Bikers for Trump’s activities at the candidate’s events. “How did that work out?”