Motorcycle Club’s Bad Reputation

Aug 7, 2015

Bikers gather in downtown Sturgis for the 75 Sturigs Rally on Thursday, August 7.
Credit Chynna Lockett

  What do you think of when you hear the title motorcycle gang?  Bikers associated with the term are often portrayed as violent by television and other media outlets. Those in motorcycle clubs say they are not all in a gang. 

The sound of motorcycle engines filled the air following the Motorcycle Museum’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony during the Sturgis Rally. The event drew hundreds of people, some sporting leather vests and patches associated with different motorcycle gangs. Jim Putnam was wearing a patch that read Lawmakers.

“A little bit about the Lawmakers. It is a nationwide motorcycle club formed in the early 80's by United States senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. And it is made up only of elected legislators, governors or any elected officials that would not be associated with law enforcement. Only Lawmakers,” Putnam explained.

He was a South Dakota legislator for 26 years and is now the national president of the Lawmakers club. He says members aim to support motorcycle safety.

“Our values are to support motorcycling all over in these different states and vote for motorcycle rights and vote against things that harm our motorcyclists,” Said Putnam.

Another group of bikers wore yellow shirts that read The Hamsters instead of vests and patches. Donnie Smith is one of 350 total members of the Hamsters. He says they don’t want to be considered a motorcycle club or gang.

“You put motorcycle and club in the same sentence and it kind of gets a different meaning. We like to be considered a group,” said Smith.

He added almost all of the members ride custom motorcycles and aid in charity work.

“We just had our banquet on Monday night and we raised through the silent auction $247,000, which the total of about the last 10 year is I think $2.1 million dollars we give to a children’s care hospital. And we’re pretty proud pretty proud of our group. They do a good job and it’s an amazing auction. And that’s what we do,” Smith said.

Bikers are expected to start leaving the Black Hills this weekend as the Sturgis Rally comes to an end.