On 30 May 2016, the following image was posted to Facebook, bearing the text “100,000 BIKERS AT TRUMP RALLY […] NOT ONE ARREST”:
We were unable to find an event in which 100,000 bikers rallied for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at any point. However, Trump did appear at a 2016 “Rolling Thunder” event, which brings thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts through Washington D.C. every year. The New York Times reported on Trump’s appearance at the rally:
Donald J. Trump, the Manhattan real estate mogul who boasts about his wealth, maintains a fleet of aircraft and sells his own brand of neckties, paid respects on Sunday to an incongruous constituency.
“Look at all these bikers,” Mr. Trump, standing before a crowd in front of the Lincoln Memorial, said with admiration. “Do we love the bikers? Yes. We love the bikers.”
Mr. Trump was addressing a gathering at the 29th annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle run, a vast event over Memorial Day weekend that is dedicated to accounting for military members taken as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action.
While it is true that police reported making no arrests at the Rolling Thunder rally, an estimated 5,000 people showed up to the event — a far cry from the 100,000 mentioned in the meme. Trump reportedly took some issue with the official numbers:
The presumptive Republican nominee was also apparently disappointed with the crowd size – organizers estimated about 5,000 people were in attendance – arguing that there were 600,000 people who wanted to hear his speech but weren’t allowed in.
Trump complained, “I thought this would be like Dr. Martin Luther King, where the people would be lined up from here all the way to the Washington monument, right? Unfortunately, they don’t allow ‘em to come in,” without explaining who “they” are or where these 600,000 people were hiding.
While it’s true that Donald Trump appeared at a motorcycle rally over Memorial Day weekend and that no one was arrested, the event wasn’t specifically to support the presidential candidate, but to draw attention to prisoners of war and people gone missing in action. The photograph that was used to illustrate the meme’s sentiment was not taken at either the 2016 Rolling Thunder event or a Donald Trump rally. It appeared on the internet as early as September 2013 and depicted the “2 Million Bikers to DC” event on 11 September 2013.