NEW HAVEN The Hour by Ben Lambert Mary O’Leary— A large group of motorcyclists moved through New Haven on Saturday, drawing attention from both city officials and police.
Mayor Justin Elicker said the “East Coastin” gathering is held annually in the city by a motorcycle club on Forbes Avenue.
This year, he said, officials had asked organizers not to hold the event, but they advertised it on social media regardless, bringing a crowd to New Haven.
In an Instagram post, organizers asked attendees to be respectful when moving through the area.
Elicker said the city had increased the number of officers on duty and closed a portion of Forbes Avenue in response. Police are also working to disperse the crowd.
“We have serious challenges in the city and our policing resources should be spent on more important issues,” said Elicker. “People should not be coming to New Haven for these unlawful joyrides and they should leave.”
Sgt. Brian McDermott estimated that 1,000 to 2,000 bikers gathered near Forbes and East Street for the event.
Families and couples, as well as a large group of motorcycle riders, were gathered on Sports Haven property, as well as along East Street watching the event where speed, noise and smoke from burning rubber was the attraction.
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McDermott said it was publicized by the Hole in the Wall Motorcycle Cub, which has its headquarters on Forbes Avenue.
“We were aware of it. We spoke to them. We didn’t want them to hold the event, but they insisted on holding it anyway. This is the result,” McDermott said of the scene on East Street at around 7 p.m. “Right now we are waiting for some more units to get everyone out of here safely.”
Shortly after that the police presence increased from around six patrol cars to more than 20 lined up on Forbes Avenue.
Asked how he was going to move such a large crowd and the bikers, McDermott replied “with a combination of patience and persistence.”
There was also a large presence of motorcycles on Long Wharf Drive, which has been the scene of motorcycle racing. Groups of motorcycle riders could be seen downtown before the event began.
Nicole, who would not give her last name, said she thought the event was called “End of the Summer” and she found it on social media. She said this is different from those who race along Long Wharf.
“This is just for fun. No one is arguing. No one is fighting, Nobody gets hurt,” Nicole said. She said she lived nearby and while she does not have a bike herself, “all the kids in the neighborhood do.”
In a message to residents Saturday evening, Elicker, describing the event as “unauthorized and unpermitted,” said police would make arrests where necessary as they strive to disperse the crowd.
“If you are attending one of these events, go home,” said Elicker. “Our police resources have more important issues to address to the residents of this city.”