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Checkpoint set up in Whitby as hundreds of Hells Angels members expected at gathering

A police checkpoint has been set up in Whitby, Ont., as hundreds of Hells Angels members from across Canada are expected at a gathering there this weekend.

Durham police Sgt. Joanne Bortoluss said officers have set up the checkpoint on Baldwin Street to ensure that anyone coming through is in compliance with the Highway Traffic Act.

“We’re checking for any sort of sobriety. We’re checking for people being properly class in the licence,” she added.

Baldwin Street north of Columbus Road will be closed until 9 p.m. Sunday and only local traffic is allowed access.

Hundreds of Hells Angels Motorcycle Club members from across Canada are expected in the area throughout the weekend for the “2022 Canada Run,” which is an annual gathering of Hells Angels members from throughout the country.

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They’re expected to gather at the clubhouse of the Brooklin Hells Angels chapter on Baldwin Street.

“Nothing criminal has happened. We have no indication that anything criminal will happen,” Bortoluss said.

“We are here because it’s a large-scale event. We’re expecting a lot of people and we’re here to ensure the safety of the public.”

Bortoluss added that if a member of the public does see illegal activity that is not an emergency, Durham Regional Police have a dedicated tip line and email address, which is listed on their website.

Earlier this week, Deputy Chief Dean Bertrim of the Durham Regional Police Service was among several officials who held a press conference explaining to the public what could be expected at this weekend’s event.

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“On the weekend of July 22nd to 24th, which is obviously this Friday to Sunday, the Brooklin chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club will host a site for an event they are calling the 2022 Canada Run,” Bertrim said.

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“We anticipate hundreds of motorcycle club members from across Canada to converge in our region.”

He said the event will be held at a residence in Brooklin — a neighbourhood in Whitby — and up to 1,000 members could attend.

“While there’s a focus of hosting activities in the Brooklin location, we know Hells Angels members will be moving throughout the entire of the region in accommodations and the visiting of hospitality venues,” Bertrim added.

“On behalf of Chief (Todd) Rollauer and our members, I want to assure the community that our service is well aware of the event and have a comprehensive operational plan in place and is supported by the provincial biker enforcement unit and our local and national partners.”

He said officers will have “a zero-tolerance approach” to any unlawful activity.

“We have already seen the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club supporters on social media trivializing this and questioning why we’re making a big deal about this and feel that we are unfairly painting the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in a negative light,” Bertrim said.

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“Let me be clear today: they are an organized crime group who have consistently proven to be responsible for all manners of … crimes including drug trafficking, illegal gambling, human trafficking, firearms and acts of violence perpetrated by their members and/or through support clubs.”

Bertrim said he did not want to cause panic by detailing what is expected over the weekend, but said he has “a responsibility to make sure that our community is aware and provided the accurate information.”

“Rest assured our primary focus in managing this event (is) to ensure we get through this safely and uneventfully for all,” he said.

Det. Insp. Scott Wade of the Ontario Provincial Police said normally events like the Canada Run aren’t “a significant public safety risk,” but said members of the public shouldn’t interact with “outlaw motorcycle club riders.”

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This weekend’s event in Durham Region follows a Hells Angels memorial procession that travelled from Newmarket to Toronto on Thursday in honour of Donny Petersen, the head of the Toronto Hells Angels chapter who died in December 2021.

A group of bikers gather outside an east-end storefront in Toronto following a procession to honour longtime Toronto Hells Angels member Donny Petersen, who died in late 2021, Thursday, July 21, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

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