A meme claiming that “antifa,” or anti-fascist protesters, planned to shut down the 2018 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally due to the prevalence of U.S. and Confederate flags was widely circulated on social media in August 2017:
However, none of the posts we viewed linked to a source showing that any antifa group had made such an announcement. It seems instead that the meme evolved from ideas generated by “alt-right” Trump fans and White nationalists.
On 13 August 2017, a member of the pro-Trump subreddit /the_donald/ posted an image of a tweet by conservative political commentator Tomi Lahren that purportedly showed a large “Trump” sign at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. “Why doesn’t Antifa show up at Sturgis?” the poster asked. (Lahren’s tweet had come a day after antifa members protested a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.)
Soon those on the far right began tweeting messages daring the anti-fascist group to attend next year’s rally and reveling in the idea of violence ensuing:
Some took the joke a step further and posted a meme of a “Sturgis Survival Kit” for potential antifa protesters:
Unsatisfied with simply daring antifa to protest Sturgis, others claimed that the group had actually made an announcement to protest next year’s event.
We searched the social media pages of various antifa groups and found no mention of a plan to protest Sturgis in 2018. We reached out to It’s Going Down, an antifa news web site and digital community center, and were told that they were unaware of any plans to protest the annual motorcycle event:
Wait what? Don’t even know what rally you are talking about. Total troll.
Looked it up, a motorcycle event? Another example of Alt-Right trolls trying to push violence, thanks for bringing this to our attention.
The idea that antifa activists were planning to protest the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was started by internet trolls amused by the idea of violence breaking out. Although it’s technically possible that this protest could get “memed into existence” before the 2018 motorcycle rally, no antifa groups had announced such a plan in August 2017.