Biker News & Biker Lifestyle

After Decades, ‘Rolling Thunder’ To Make Its Last Big Ride Through Washington, D.C.

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Come 2020, Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C., will be a whole lot quieter.

Rolling Thunder, the veterans advocacy group that organizes a massive annual motorcycle ride through the nation’s capital, announced this week that the gathering in 2019 will be its last big rally.

The sound of thousands of motorcycles rumbling through the city has been a staple of the holiday weekend for decades.

But Artie Muller, a Vietnam veteran and executive director of Rolling Thunder, told NPR that the event had become too costly and that federal agencies were making it overly difficult to organize.

“We’re just sick and tired of getting the shaft from them,” Muller said.

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There were problems getting permission to use the giant parking lots at the Pentagon where bikers gathered for the ride, he noted, adding that some people this year hadn’t been allowed into the lot and left out of frustration.

The group also took issue with what it described as restrictive Department of Defense security guidelines, a ban on merchandise sales and limits on sponsors, The Washington Post reports.

Rolling Thunder Vice President Pete Zaleski told Military Times that it costs over $200,000 to host the event. “It really has exploded to beyond what we can support,” he said.

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In a June letter to local chapters of Rolling Thunder, Muller criticized the Defense Department and the U.S. Park Police: “Despite planning meetings, agreements and exorbitant permit charges fees these DC agencies do everything they can to divert and complicate our event.”

Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said, in a statement to NPR, “The department supports the peaceful, lawful exercise of American citizens’ First Amendment rights, and remains focused on ensuring the safety and security of the demonstrators and the Pentagon Reservation. The department is prepared to support the 2019 Rolling Thunder ride, as we have for the last 31 years.”

The Park Police didn’t immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment.

Joe Chenelly, executive director of the veterans’ advocacy group AMVETS, expressed concern over the decision on Twitter.

The ride has grown in popularity since 2,500 motorcyclists first thundered across Washington, D.C.’s Memorial Bridge in 1988. It has become the world’s largest single-day motorcycle event, according to Rolling Thunder. Organizers call it a demonstration intended to honor veterans and troops killed in action and put pressure on the U.S. government to find service members who are still missing.

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Rolling Thunder has looked into using alternative parking lots in the area, according to Muller, but none could handle the massive number of people and machines. And he said that over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to raise money as younger riders forgo purchasing the vests, patches and pins that help fund the group.

The final ride in D.C. is set to take place on May 26. Starting in 2020, Muller said, Rolling Thunder’s 90-some local chapters will hold smaller events across the country. He’s hopeful those rides will attract a new generation of veterans and supporters.

“There’s a lot of riders out there that don’t have the money, don’t have the time off of work. … They want to participate and they can’t,” Muller said. “Maybe this is the change that’s needed.”

Source: PBR


1 comment

  1. Not only can younger riders not afford it, our younger vets are in a more dire economic circumstance. Our middle class has been destroyed. I have a great nephew who served several tours in Iraq. Came back after getting blown up by EID’s several times. And he’s lucky in only a couple of ways. The military gave him a decent amount of disability because of the amount of TBI he’s got and his dad’s doing well enough that he can help him out with his kid and stuff, but he’s really fucked up.
    He has to wear incredibly dark glasses inside and out due to optical nerve damage. All he wants to do is sit inside and smoke weed all the time. That’s no way to be raising your kid. He acts like he’s stuck as a 14 year old.
    Many of these vets are homeless and the DVA has not done much to help. They run some nice little commercials on TV, but there are homeless vets everywhere trying and failing to get the help they need and were promised. There are still Vietnam vets trying to get help. WTF happened to our country. You want to know about the National Parks Dep’t.? Their funding has been cut to almost nothing. And the DOD? There wasn’t even a spokesperson there since Trump took office. But last week who was at the DOD podium making a speech? Gene fucking Simmons from KISS. Seriously. This is what’s wrong with our country now. People voted, only 27% of eligible voters, for a reality TV guy who managed to LOSE at least a billion dollars in 10 years. Now I have to tell you, I used to have a lot of money. I could not even think of a way to lose a billion dollars in that time. You have to be a complete moron to do that. I actually knew REAL developers in New York. During the time he “lost” that billion dollars there were 300 condo towers going up in NYC. 299 did just fine. The only one that went bankrupt was Trump’s. Everyone smelled something fishy, but that piece of shit makes sure everything has a nondisclosure agreement in it so nobody can find out the truth about what he actually did with the money. And, when it comes to financing, he has been getting money from the Russians for years and years because he was banned from using US banks. Why do you think Putin is his best friend. He’s not our countries best friend. Not by a long shot. It’s been his mission for a long time to bring back the U.S.S.R. ’cause that fucker is a die hard KGB motherfucker through and through. He’s talked about it. As far as I am concerned, anyone who continues to support this traitorous asshole is also a traitor and should be dealt with accordingly. FUCK TRUMP. HE AND HIS CRONIES ARE TRYING TO DESTROY OUR COUNTRY. I’m not a die hard liberal, but I do think for myself. And both my parents worked for defense contractors. From the time I was a kid I was not able to know what my father did at work it was so classified. We were all told we were being watched, be careful what we say on the phone, who we talk to. Okay, phones tapped, under surveillance, don’t make friends. PARANOIA. Some of those lessons served me well later on. However, while Dad’d like Spock, logical, reasonable, never raises his voice, we’ve got a psycho bitch mother who brutally beats the shit out of me and my sister daily. That cunt even broke my ankle when I was really little ’cause I outran her. FUCK THAT CRAZY BITCH. WE’RE WAITING FOR HER TO DIE. THAT ROTTEN CUNT EVEN FUCKED AROUND ON OUR FATHER RIGHT IN FRONT OF US AND IN THE HOUSE WE ALL LIVED IN! LYING, CHEATING, CHILD ABUSING, PSYCHO BITCH CUNT. I finally decked the bitch when I was 15. She just pushed me over the top. I stopped even hearing what she was screaming at me. I just saw her crazy ass coming at me a second time in this scenario and I hit her with a tight so hard she flew across the room. FUCK IT, I’D HAD ENOUGH. That wasn’t the first time I had decked someone, but that was in elementary school and it was a boy 2 years older & bigger. Broke that piss-ant’s nose. Deservedly so.
    I need to stop. I’ve just been rambling for a while now.


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