Heavy police presence as bikers meet in Charlottetown

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Police forces from P.E.I. and other Maritime regions kept a close eye on a gathering of bikers in Charlottetown Saturday afternoon.

A group of about 100 bikers, ranging from members of outlaw motorcycle clubs to independent riders from across the Maritimes, took part in an Atlantic Confederation of Clubs (ACC) meeting at Hot Shots lounge to discuss discrimination against bikers.

While members were entering the bar, a large police presence remained in the parking lot taking photographs.

The Guardian approached several members and asked if they were willing to discuss the issue of biker discrimination.

Although those individuals declined, one biker later told police and media they were allowed to join the meeting.

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Members of the Bacchus biker club walk to the ACC gathering in the Hots Shots lounge in Charlotettown Saturday.

©BRIAN MCINNIS/TC MEDIA

Heavy police presence as bikers meet in Charlottetown

A member of the London, Ont. chapter of the Hells Angels attended the gathering in Charlottetown.

BRIAN MCINNIS/TC MEDIA

“It’s an open house, everyone is welcome,” said the biker.

However, once officers and reporters entered the building, a large group of members exited and said the building was full.

“We don’t want to be over capacitated,” said one biker. “We don’t want to break the law.”

RCMP Cpl. Andy Cook, the provincial outlaw motorcycle gang (OMG) co-ordinator, said the ACC meets about three to four times annually and their last visit to P.E.I. was in Summerside last year.

 “We’re here for the intelligence portion of things,” said Cooke, who noted that Charlottetown, Summerside and Kensington police were also at the event. “We’re all here to work as one unit to ensure public safety as well.”

Brad McConnell, Charlottetown police deputy chief for administration, said the police presence was not meant to “intimidate’ any ACC members, but to perform “due diligence” by gathering intelligence and keeping the peace.

“We recognize it’s prudent to monitor these gatherings of people involved in outlaw motorcycle gangs and offer peace of mind to the residents living and travelling through this area at the same time,” said McConnell.

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Bikers from various clubs gather outside the Hot Shots lounge Saturday in Charlottetown.

©BRIAN MCINNIS/TC MEDIA

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A member of the RCMP watches as two members of the Bacchus biker club in New Brunswick walk to the meeeting of the ACC in Charlottetown Saturday.

©BRIAN MCINNIS/TC MEDIA

Heavy police presence as bikers meet in Charlottetown

A biker glares at the photographer in the parking lot of Hot Shots lounge in Charlottetown Saturday during a meeting of the Atlantic Confederation of Clubs.

BRIAN MCINNIS/TC MEDIA

Cook noted that only a portion of the group was comprised of outlaw motorcycle gang members.

“There are veteran clubs, there’s a whole host of different clubs that make up the membership of this group,” said Cook. “There are legitimate clubs and outlaws right up to independent persons who don’t ride with any motorcycle clubs.”

On the ACC’s website, the group states the history of motorcyclist rights organizations and their common goals of fighting government intrusion and harassment.

The major focus is on battling discrimination against bikers through the judicial system, with meetings often holding votes to see if members want to bring incidents to court.

“In many areas, businesses refuse to allow colours to be worn in their establishments, likewise, as anyone who wears colours can tell you, the law enforcement authorities treat patch holders more severely in many cases,” states the ACC. “The confederations consider such acts to be discriminatory and want it known that they will use every legal means possible to stop such practices.”

That stance would be in opposition to a statement made by the province earlier this week when premier Wade MacLauchlan said government will be developing new laws to target outlaw motorcycle gangs.

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A member of the New Brunswick chapter of the Hells Angels, right, greets a member of the Gate Keepers in Charlottetown Saturday.

©BRIAN MCINNIS/TC MEDIA

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Bikers smoke and chat in the parking lot of Hot Shots lounge in Charlottetown Saturday during a meeting of the Atlantic Confederation of Clubs.

©BRIAN MCINNIS/TC MEDIA

Heavy police presence as bikers meet in Charlottetown

A biker attending the ACC gathering in Charlotettown Saturday wears a knife on his belt.

BRIAN MCINNIS/TC MEDIA

The first step would involve the province taking legal steps to possibly ban club colours in bars, make construction of fortified buildings illegal and regulate the sale of body armour. A second step would promise no public or financial support to members of motorcycle gangs involved in criminal activities.

Cook previously told The Guardian the difference between innocuous riding clubs and the “1%” clubs is that the “1 per centers” don’t feel the need to abide by the law.

P.E.I. has seen an increase of clubs who consider themselves “one per centers” during the past several years.

Last December, a Hells Angels club affiliated with the Woodbridge, Ont. chapter of the gang opened in Charlottetown, which marks the first Hells Angels presence in P.E.I.

The competing Bacchus club, which was promoted to a full one per cent status last weekend, has been in P.E.I. since 2012 and now has two “full patch” chapters in Alliston and Alberton.

“Not all these people commit criminal acts, but their membership supports criminal acts by reinforcing the ‘power of the patch,’” said Cook. “If you truly just want to ride your bikes, then report members of those clubs that are involved in committing crimes.”

McConnell said the increased presence of motorcycle gangs have been of concern to police.

“That’s why you see an increased police presence,” he said, adding that officers will continue to focus on the clubs. “Expect a similar response from police during future gatherings.”

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News Article written by: 
Mitch MacDonald
Source of News article: 
theguardian.pe.ca




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