It was quiet on a farm road in Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, but this weekend, hundreds of bikers are expected to be at a Hells Angels bunker east of Montreal.
“We’re talking anywhere between five- and seven-hundred bikers which will attend,” explains Quebec Provincial Police spokesperson Guy Lapointe. “Because to the 500 members, you have to add the supporting clubs that will also have representatives.”
The clubhouse is about 20 minutes northeast of Saint-Hyacinthe. Every year, the group has a gathering in a different part of the country. Last year, it was in Calgary and two years ago, it was near Ottawa. The last time it was held in Quebec was about 10 years ago.
Police say the meeting is really a show of force and intimidation — they want others to know that they control the territory and are here to stay.
Quebec police have cracked down on the bikers in recent months for alleged drug trafficking. In April, they made 60 arrests disrupting a multi-million-dollar network. They insist they’re ready for this weekend’s gathering.
“We’ll make them feel our presence as well, you can be sure of that,” says Lapointe.
But he admits if the bikers respect the law, they’ll be left alone.
He also says people should not fear for their safety.
“They’re not in the business of going after civilians,” he tells Global News. “That’s not what they do. They don’t want that kind of attention.”
One thing police are asking is that people avoid the area altogether.
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In recent years, authorities have noticed a celebrity culture building around Hells Angels members by fans of the TV series Sons of Anarchy.
“But this isn’t a TV show,” he stresses. “There’s no script, there are no actors, people have died. “These people use violence, intimidation — they are criminals!”
Some Saint-Hyacinthe residents say though they’re not scared, they do plan to stay away. Cynthia Sappracone says the meeting won’t affect her life one way or another.
“They do their own thing, I do my own thing, I mean — they don’t bother you if you don’t bother them, so.”