Hells Angels in Toronto Thursday could cause disruptions

Hells Angels in Toronto Thursday could cause disruptions

Toronto police say they have a “robust” plan in place to monitor and minimize any disruptions to residents, businesses, and roadways caused by a Hells Angels memorial ride and gathering in Toronto’s east end on Thursday.

Speaking to the media outside Toronto police headquarters late this morning, Supt. Scott Baptiste, of Traffic Services, said they’ve been made aware of an “unsanctioned event” scheduled to get underway around 11 a.m. tomorrow.

He said police are expecting a “large procession” of 800 to 1,000 motorcyclists, most of whom are Hells Angels members, will depart from Newmarket and head southbound on the Don Valley Parkway before heading eastbound on Lake Shore Boulevard East, and then north on Carlaw Avenue.

“This procession will inevitably cause traffic disruption in our city. We’re working with other police services, including the OPP and York Regional Police, to manage traffic and to ensure pubic safety during this procession,” Baptiste said.

“We have no information to indicate that they intend to do anything other than participate in the memorial ride, followed by the gathering in the city.”

The Hells Angels have a storefront space at 98 Carlaw Ave., just south of Eastern Avenue.

The motorcycle club’s downtown branch used to have a clubhouse just around the corner at 498 Eastern Ave, but that property was seized by the Crown in March 2007 following a series of mass arrests. The 30″ by 120″ lot was sold in early 2016.

Baptiste said tomorrow’s gathering, which is being held in honour of an unnamed former Hells Angel and is separate from the club’s national ride set for this weekend in the Whitby area, is expected to wrap up around 5 p.m.

Members of the Hells Angels look on as their banner is raised outside the Hells Angels Nomads compound before the group’s Canada Run event in Carlsbad Springs, Ont., near Ottawa, on Friday, July 22, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

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As a result, he said drivers should expect traffic disruptions along the aforementioned roads from 11 a.m. to noon and from 5 to 6 p.m. Baptiste said traffic delays and road closures will also take place in the area of Carlaw and Eastern avenues starting at 11 a.m. and throughout the afternoon.

People in the Leslieville area can expect to see an overall increased police presence Thursday afternoon as 55 Division will be setting up a command post nearby.

“As with any large gathering in our city, TPS will have visible resources in the area to ensure public safety and to minimize disruption and manage traffic issues,” Baptiste said.

People are being advised to check social media for updates.

In a tweet, York Regional Police advised drivers to expect a number of road closures in Newmarket, in and around Leslie Street and Davis Drive, tomorrow between 9 and 11 a.m. for a “large gathering of Hells Angels, travelling southbound on the 404.”

Motorists should note the area bounded by Davis Drive to the north, Harry Walker Parkway South to the east, Stackhouse Road to the south, and Leslie Street to the west will be off limits tomorrow morning during the aforementioned hours.

York police said members of the public will also see an increased police presence as officers from the Crowd Management, Public Safety and Community Oriented Response Units, as well as frontline officers, will be attending that area “exclusively to ensure public safety.”

Roads near Davis and Leslie will only be open to local traffic during that period “to ensure the safety of motorists, as well as local businesses and pedestrian traffic,” police said.  

This weekend, as many as 1,000 Hells Angels are expected to ride their motorcycles through Whitby for the club’s national motorcycle run.

Durham Regional Police held a news conference Monday to “make sure that our community is aware and provided the accurate information.”

Officials said they hope the three-day event will be “uneventful.”

“If you see a large group of motorcycles, outlaw motorcycle club riders, don’t interact, maintain your distance. Try to stay out of the line of motorcycles and be safe,” OPP Det/Insp. Scott Wade said.

READ MORE: Police say they don’t want to ‘create panic’ as up to 1,000 Hells Angels roll through Ontario

The annual meetup is hosted by the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club chapter based in Brooklin, north of Whitby, and runs from July 22 to 24.

People should also expect to see an increased police presence in that area during the motorcycle run.

With files from Phil Tsekouras