Hundreds of motorcycle-riding supporters of President-elect Donald Trump arrived Thursday in Washington in anticipation of Friday's inauguration.
The group, Bikers for Trump, secured an area along the inauguration parade route where they will gather to hold the "58th inauguration halftime show" between the swearing-in ceremony at noon and the start of the parade in the afternoon.
Chris Cox, the founder of Bikers for Trump, told Fox & Friends the group was "laughed at" when around 100 people showed up to its first rally in October 2015, but since then membership has ballooned to around 200,000 people.
Founder Chris Cox says Bikers for Trump "started as a result of the outspoken nature of Donald Trump and the bikers' frustration with the direction this country was going," Jan. 19, 2017. (J. Fatzick/VOA)
"Bikers for Trump started as a result of the outspoken nature of Donald Trump and the bikers' frustration with the direction this country was going. … We're a force to be reckoned with. We're a political phenomenon," he said.
Cox said he expected upward of 5,000 bikers to attend the rally, which could make it the largest pro-Trump event run by a private organization on Inauguration Day.
Cox told The Washington Post he hoped the rally and his group would morph into something bigger, eventually turning bikers into a voting bloc similar to evangelical Christians or organized labor.
"Bikers are strongly organized locally," he told the paper. "They just haven't been organized nationally before."
In a video posted to the group's Facebook page on Wednesday, Cox said the halftime event would feature various speakers, a ceremony to honor veterans, and a band called The Fryed Brothers, which Cox described as "the world's best biker band."
"We've had hiccups along the way, but we've managed to pull this off," he said.
The bikers rode through Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, then turned around and retraced their path to Virginia, Jan. 19, 2017. (J. Fatzick/VOA)
About 200 members of the group participated in the organized ride on Thursday, which began about 30 minutes outside Washington, in Dale City, Virginia. The bikers crossed the Potomac River and rode through the crowded Georgetown neighborhood of Washington before turning around and heading back out the way they came in.
Cox said he expected Friday's halftime event to go peacefully, although he told Fox & Friends his group would step in to "help police" should any of the large number of expected anti-Trump protesters become violent or attempt to breach police barricades.
"In the event that we are needed, we certainly will form a wall of meat," he said. "We'll be shoulder-to-shoulder with our brothers and we'll be toe-to-toe with anyone that is going to break through any police barriers, that's going to be assaulting women, spitting on them, throwing things at them. We are anticipating a peaceful transition of power."