SPEARFISH — About 500-600 members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club will roar into Spearfish July 25 for their annual USA Run.
Lt. Curt Jacobs, of the Spearfish Police Department, said earlier this year he had a visit from a few members of the infamous motorcycle club, who announced their intentions. Jacobs said the members were in the area for the sentencing of two members who were convicted of simple assault and aggravated assault, in connection with a shooting that occurred in Sturgis last year.
But since the initial contact, Jacobs said he has not heard from the group.
The bikers are expected to be in town July 25-29, at the same time as the Days of '76 Rodeo in Deadwood. Jacobs said he believes they will be stationed throughout town.
JoAnne Krambeck, the owner of Jo's Field of Dreams, a Spearfish campground said members are planningto stay at her campground — something that members have done before.
“I'm 63 years old and I've dealt with Angels for most of my life,” Krambeck said. “They've brought me nothing but luck. They've treated me with great respect and dignity.”
Krambeck said she first met club members when she moved to California when she was 19.
“A lot of people have misconceptions about them because of the old days. But they're not that way anymore.”
She added that many club members are military veterans and business owners and are “great tippers.”
Multiple attempts to contact members of the club about their plans were unsuccessful. Reports about the club's runs in previous years paint the events as nothing more than family vacations for the bikers.
Though the influx of Hells Angels in the Northern Hills area may cause concern for some residents, law enforcement officials from other areas of the country say they have not had incidents when the club members gathered in their town. In 2009, when the Hells Angels gathered in Carlton County, Minnesota, for their USA Run, Sheriff Kelly Lake said there were no major events, but she attributed that to an increase in police presence in the area. Lake said the Carlton County Sheriff's Department worked with several agencies within the county, as well as state and federal law enforcement agencies, to keep the peace during the Hells Angels' stay.
“We did not have any serious events occur, but I would attribute that to the increase in police presence,” Lake said.
In 2011 the club held its World Run in Laconia, N.H., and law enforcement reported zero incidents.
“There was no crime directly caused by them,” said Capt. Matt Canfield of the Laconia Police Department. “We really didn't have any issues with them.”
In fact, the World Run was so uneventful last year that the local newspaper did not even cover it, said Edward Engler, editor of the Laconia Daily Sun. The reason for the lack of activity, Engler said, could be attributed to the Hells Angels clubhouse that is located just outside of town in Laconia, which is something Spearfish does not have.
“It is pretty isolated,” Engler said. “It's very much out of sight and they can totally self contain what they're doing.”
According to the Hells Angels website there are no club chapters in South Dakota. There is a Hells Angels clubhouse that operates during the Rally on Third Street in Sturgis.