MC EVENTS ATTACKED NATIONWIDE
Motorcycle events around the country are coming under attack like never before during he summer of 2008.
Fueled by greed, distain, and NIMBY (not in my back yard!), communities and law enforcement agencies have stepped up attempts to squash or severely restrict new and long-established bike events.
In what might be the biggest events under attack, the City of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has approved a property tax increase to raise money to be spent chasing Harley-Davidson Spring Rally and the Atlantic Beach Bikefest out of town. Both are long-standing Myrtle Beach events.
"They bring three weeks of noise, congestion, reckless driving, crime, nudity, lewdness, rudeness, litter, wrecks, fatalities - they are overwhelming our capacity to deal with them," city spokesman Mark Kruea said.
Simmering resentment by some residents is behind he move, while other residents are fighting to keep the events.
"For me, it's a matter of sheer survival. Those weeks are 40 percent of my business," said Ben Brown, owner of motorcycle shop B & M Custom Cycles in the heart of Myrtle Beach.
While motorcycle shops and some nightclubs depend on biker business to survive, the local Chamber of Commerce says business decreases sharply at golf courses and amusement centers. Few visitors other than bikers frequent the beach during the rally - and rally-goers don't tend to take to the links. Plus, they entertain themselves without visiting the local attractions or specialty stores.
The move will only succeed in the communities surrounding Myrtle Beach support it, which seems uncertain.
In another, more brazen move, village officials in Grayslake, Illinois, revoked the permit for an event there the day before it was to take place, citing “safety concerns” voiced by the Illinois State Police Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center. The center claimed the Hells lovers and the Outlaws planned to settle a score at the Ironhorse roundup scheduled for May 2008.
Just a few weeks later, the Illinois State Police Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center tried the same trick in Marseilles, Illinois, in an attempt to shut down the Illinois Motorcyle Freedom Run, an event honoring US veterans. Reports of a 'substantial attendance of outlaw motorcycle gang members' at the event were confirmed by the local police with the Statewide Terrorism Information Center. The city council there, however, didn’t bite, and allowed the rally to go on june 21. No incidents were reported.
In Palm Springs, the city council voted 3-2 in June to allow the American Heat Palm Springs Motorcycle Weekend event Oct. 12-14 to go forward against the objections of police Chief David Dominguez. Dominguez said, “Clubs that are bitter enemies” will attend, and “that's when we have the potential for violence.” He based his statement on information from the California Department of Justice.
In addition to approving the event, city leaders voted to suspend the city's noise ordinance that weekend and to spend up to $35,000 for public safety, traffic, trash and other costs associated with the biker event.
Anti-motorcycle officials have not been shy about spouting off.
"We don't care which rally it is, we'd just as soon stop them," Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said. "We don't need them. We can fill all the hotel rooms without bike weeks."
While some events are going forward, others find themselves being restricted by new noise and zoning ordinances among other tactics.
Locally, the newspaper in Durango, in the center of the Four Corners Rallies, continues to spew anti-biker rhetoric, and makes no apologies for that stance. Law enforcment there views all motorcyclists with a wary eye.
Front range cities have been attempting to crack down on motorcycle exhaust and other aspects of the activity by making it difficult to even ride through town.
Making riders uncomfortable in general seems to be the newest tactic across the nation. What the goal of the measures remains unspoken, but appears clear: to drive off motorcyclists.