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Bikers For Trump Roll Into Washington For Inauguration

Jan 21, 2017
Originally published on January 21, 2017 1:27 pm
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Among the people who came to Washington, D.C., for Donald Trump's inauguration were bikers.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOTORCYCLE ENGINE)

SIMON: They started riding their motorcycles on Thursday, and the morning of the swearing in, the Bikers for Trump gathered in a plaza near the Capitol to celebrate. NPR's Adrian Florindo was there.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Barry Gurney rode six hours from the coast of North Carolina. The whole way up, he imagined roaring onto the National Mall, sleeping on the ground next to his motorcycle and waking up by the dawn's early light to see Donald Trump place his hand on the Bible.

BARRY GURNEY: It was beautiful. I rolled all the way in. I had no traffic coming in. And there's a policeman there and I asked him and he says, no, man, you can't have a vehicle in there. And so then I left. I came back this morning on the metro (laughter).

FLORIDO: Not quite the same statement, was it?

GURNEY: No, not really.

FLORIDO: It wasn't the only disappointment for some of the bikers. Black Lives Matter protesters blocked the security checkpoint near where the bikers were meeting. So it took some bikers hours to get in. Chris Cox founded Bikers for Trump, and on Friday morning, he was annoyed.

CHRIS COX: You'd never see bikers acting like that, that's for sure.

FLORIDO: You might call it payback. Bikers for Trump came to national attention last summer when they showed up at the Republican convention in Cleveland saying they were there to help police control anti-Trump protests should they get violent. They had something similar in mind here. Bernadette Marie Luke is another leader of the bikers.

BERNADETTE MARIE LUKE: We were here to make sure that Donald Trump got sworn in with no complications.

FLORIDO: Though there were some violent protests, the bikers seemed to stay away. All the better for Bill Kirby, also known as Wild Bill. He made it here from Oklahoma in two days to celebrate the new president. He likes that Trump has promised to help veterans like him.

BILL KIRBY: I'm a hundred percent disabled veteran. I hope he does steps in and straightens out the V.A. for one thing. I don't even go to the V.A. hospital where I live.

FLORIDO: That's part of the reason the bikers like Trump. Many are veterans. But Kirby says there's more to it, and this is something he has thought a lot about.

KIRBY: Freedom is our thing. I don't like rules. I don't have to put on a seatbelt when I get in my bike, so I ride a bike. A lot of people just live in these little rules, and they're perfectly happy to stay in their lane. Not me; I'm going across the lanes. And a guy like that, you heard him, you've seen his speeches and stuff. He don't stay in the line. He's more like a shotgun man. And I like that.

FLORIDO: Other bikers had other reasons for liking Trump, like Vicky and Greg Harrel, who rode up on bumpy roads from Tennessee.

VICKY HARREL: It was rough riding. I must say my tail feathers got a little sore.

(LAUGHTER)

GREG HARREL: Yeah, 550 miles on a bike is not easy, especially when you're in your 50s (laughter).

FLORIDO: They're excited about Trump's plan to spend big on infrastructure because that might mean smoother rides. Adrian Florido, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.