Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Hells Angels pick Ottawa for Show of Strength

Mandatory gathering expected to draw hundreds from across Canada

Ottawa, Canada (June 7, 2016) The event is expected to draw members from across the country, as well as members of affiliated junior clubs including the Red Devils, Gatekeepers, 13th Crew and Iron Dragons from Eastern Canada, and the Tribal and Devil’s Arms clubs from the west.

The gathering is scheduled to run July 21-24.

Ottawa offers a central location for the get-together, and is also close to the Gatineau region of Quebec, where the bikers have a strong presence.

There are currently about 450 members of the Hells Angels in Canada, but about 60 of them are either in custody and restricted from associating with outlaw bikers because of bail or parole conditions.

The bikers have a reputation for tipping large at restaurants and bars during national runs to bolster their image. They also generally leave their wives at home.

Attendance is mandatory at a national run every four years, and that includes this year’s event in Ottawa. Members who don’t attend owe a good explanation and a hefty fine – usually a higher amount than it would cost to attend the run – to the club.

For the Angels, a national run is a chance to socialize and also talk face-to-face, without the worry of police intercepting conversations. For police, they offer a chance to gather intelligence, in part through traffic check-stops. For the public, it’s something of a rolling bike show.

Quebec Hells Angels arrive in White Rock, B.C., in 2008 (license plates blacked out by BTN)

A veteran biker cop said current club members generally aren’t as skilled on motorcycles as their counterparts of the past. “These guys, truly half of them can’t ride,” the police officer said. “They’re slipping their clutches. They’re unsure of their bikes.”

There was a heavy police presence in 2013 around Langley, B.C., for a national run, but no reported incidence of law-breaking by the bikers. That event marked the 30th anniversaries of the chapters in White Rock, Nanaimo and Vancouver.

The last mandatory national run was held in 2012 in Saskatoon. While there was no violence there, the club had local lawyer Morris Bodnar on call, just in case.

Les MacPherson, a columnist for the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, wrote that the bikers were well-behaved during the mass gathering in his city.

“On the first two days of the Craven Country Jamboree music festival last weekend, police arrested more than 80 people for various offences, handed out more than 60 tickets on alcohol-related charges and 150 tickets for traffic offences,” MacPherson wrote. “Here, with 400 Hells Angels assembled, no arrests have been reported.”

SOURCE: The Star