Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hells Angels and Mongols Fight at Sturgis Rally 2011 (Video)




The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has always been considered a neutral zone for members of motorcycle clubs -- But that was not the case at the 2011 Sturgis Rally. Video shot from the balcony of One Eyed Jack's, Wednesday night (Aug. 10th) of a fight in downtown Sturgis. The witness who shot this video said he was talking on his cell phone watching the Hells Angels Sturgis headquarters when all hell broke loose!

"I heard popping noises and looked down. Probably 20 Hells Angels and Mongols were going at it, fighting, etc. Within a minute, the Sturgis Police were at the scene, guns drawn and taking control. Notice the women in the clubhouse coming out with their hands over their heads. We had noticed the Mongols eating outside at the restaurant while walking in. Wonder if it was a turf deal since the restaurant is directly adjacent to the Hells Angels clubhouse?"

A member from both groups was stabbed during the downtown Sturgis gang fight between the Mongols and Hells Angels on Aug. 10 , which may also have been a contributing factor to smaller crowds at the 71st Sturgis Rally, Sheriff's Chief Deputy Tom  Wilts told the rapidcityjournal

Today, more than half a million people attend the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and with few exceptions, the rally has become a non-violent "neutral zone." There was a shooting in 2006 at Custer State Park and a shooting in 2008 at Sturgis' Loud American Roadhouse. There was also a fatal stabbing on a shuttle bus in 2006.

Back in the 1970's only a few thousand riders came to Sturgis. "During that time, we had mostly gangs and hard-core bikers," said Russ Hilton, who served as Sturgis police chief from 1974-1978. "There wasn't much of a family affair, like it is today." 

In 1976, a "near riot" broke out in city park. "They started the highway on fire with gasoline and then started running the bikes through it. We had a pretty tough time for awhile there," Hilton said in a "70 Years of the Rally" story for Legendary Sturgis News.

The 60th Sturgis Rally in 2000 drew the biggest crowd so far, an estimated 633,000. The 70th anniversary rally drew an estimated 466,769. Sturgis is "aging out" as a rally, according to a recent survey: 61% of the Sturgis crowd is age 41-65, which is why there is an emphasis at The Buffalo Chip and other campgrounds to attract a younger crowd.