Like most events of 2020, Street Vibrations was canceled earlier this year amid COVID-19 concerns and statewide orders limiting gatherings to 50 individuals or fewer. Some motorcycle enthusiasts still gathered to cruise around the city and some area stores hosted their own private events, including the Kawasaki and Reno Harley Davidson dealerships.
There was at least one organized event that was part motorcycle rally, part protest. Scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26 and dubbed the “Sisolak Sucks Street Vibrations Rally,” the event was organized on Facebook by two local riders. The event gathered more than a thousand RSVPs.
“The State of Nevada had imposed such strict restrictions on gatherings. Bring your Bike and awesome cars to Join fellow Motorcycle and Car enthusiasts while ‘social distancing,’” the invite read. “Let’s show that those restrictions won’t keep us from riding.”
While the rally route was set to travel south to Carson City and then on to Virginia City, the first leg began in south Reno from the Sam’s Club parking lot and traveled north through downtown and under the Reno arch.
Motorcycles of all shapes and sizes took part, from classic choppers, café racers, adventure bikes, custom rides and just about everything else. Some riders wore T-shirts with the “Sisolak Sucks” slogan, and a few had Trump flags attached to their bikes.
The line of motorcycles, some traveling two abreast up Virginia Street, was followed by what has become known as a “Trump Train,” a caravan of cars and trucks decorated in pro-Trump paraphernalia with drivers and passengers honking and shouting from their vehicles.
City officials called the unapproved event risky.
“Our departments have not been authorizing special event permits,” said City of Reno spokesperson Jon Humbert. “Nevada’s COVID-19 positivity rate has continued to rise. It is simply unsafe to have large gatherings of any kind per CDC and state health leaders.”
Update: This article was updated to include a statement from the City of Reno.
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.