A large procession of up to 1,000 Hells Angels members has arrived in Toronto’s east end to a heavy police presence.
Yesterday, Toronto Police said they were made aware of an “unsanctioned event” being held by the motorcycle club today, with a large group of 800 to 1,000 motorcyclists participating in a procession starting in Newmarket and ending in Toronto.
The ride was in honour of longtime Toronto Hells Angels member, Donny Peterson, who died at 74 of natural causes.
After departing Newmarket at around 11 a.m., the motorcycle riders headed south on the Don Valley Parkway before heading east on Lake Shore Boulevard East, and north on Carlaw Avenue.
The procession came to an end at around noon and hundreds of bikes are now parked outside a storefront on Carlaw Avenue that is believed to be operated by the motorcycle club. Aerial footage shows bikes lining both sides of Carlaw Avenue all the way from Lake Shore Boulevard to Eastern Avenue.
Police have closed Carlaw Avenue between Lake Shore Boulevard and Eastern Avenue to accommodate the gathering. The closure is expected to remain in place until 7 p.m. A command post has also been set up on Commissioners Street and police are urging any community members with questions or concerns to approach officers there.
“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 public safety during this procession,” Toronto Police Supt. Scott Baptiste told reporters on Wednesday.
The procession downtown took place against the backdrop of a large police presence, however it unfolded without incident.
Police were also on hand at Lakeshore Boulevard at Carlaw Road to direct traffic as the motorcycle riders arrived.
Baptiste said residents in Leslieville can expect an increased police presence in the neighbourhood thiroughout this afternoon, as it is unclear when the motorcycle riders will depart.
“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,” he said.
People are being advised to check social media for any updates on the procession.
Today’s gathering is expected to finish at approximately 7 p.m.
This weekend, as many as 1,000 Hells Angels members are expected to gather for the club’s national motorcycle run in Whitby.
With files from CP24’s Joanna Lavoie