Hells Angels meet for annual memorial ride amid strong police presence (video)

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About 80 Hells Angels and supporters met at the biker gang’s East Vancouver clubhouse Saturday for their annual memorial ride in honour of a full-patch member who was murdered in 1988.

Police officers on motorcycles and in unmarked cars were also on the scene monitoring the event.

East End chapter president John Bryce said he doesn’t know why there was such a big police presence.

“We don’t even need them here. We do it every year. I don’t know why there are so many of them here,” Bryce said.

He said the event was to commemorate all the Hells Angels’ fallen members, as well as those who’ve gone missing and presumed to have been murdered.

“Every year we get together - this is the 26th year and we just go to the graveyard and celebrate the life of the brothers who died,” Bryce said.

Bryce said the only thing to see was "us ride away into the sunset and the rain.”

But Sgt. Lindsey Houghton said Bryce shouldn't be surprised by the presence of officers from Vancouver Police, Burnaby RCMP and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

"Every year the police are present at that event. Bryce and all the others know the police are going to be there," said Houghton, CFSEU media officer. "It should be no surprise. They are Hells Angels after all...and 18% of all B.C. HA's have recent convictions."

The annual ride is in memory of full-patch East End Angel Dave (Screwy) Swartz, who was gunned down in Surrey on April 6, 1988, by a friend after an all-night drinking party. The friend then killed himself with the same gun.

The bikers gathered outside the clubhouse at 3598 East Georgia St. all morning before leaving in formation at about 12:30 p.m. to a Burnaby cemetery. Police followed them. They returned to the clubhouse later in the afternoon.

Bryce and other members of the East End chapter have filed a court challenge of the constitutionality of the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Act after the government used it to freeze the assets of three biker chapters.

In November 2012, the B.C. government filed a civil forfeiture application to seize the East End clubhouse, as well as one in Kelowna.

And the Nanaimo chapter has been battling the B.C. government over the ownership of its clubhouse since 2007.

The government suits allege all three clubhouses have been used in criminal activities and should therefore be forfeited.

Police raided the East End clubhouse in July 2005 after a major undercover investigation dubbed E-Pandora that made use of agent Michael Plante. It led to convictions of 12 Angels and associates.

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