NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A legal battle is brewing between the City of New Haven and the organizers of an illegal motorcycle rally that took place in September 2021.
Mayor Justin Elicker and Police Chief Karl Jacobson announced Tuesday that they had filed a civil lawsuit against the EastCoastin companies and two of their agents, including Gabriel Canestri Jr.
Despite warning from the city this event wouldn’t be allowed, city leaders said Canestri Jr. planned and promoted the rally without receiving proper city permits to move forward with the event. About 5,000 people, including motorcycle enthusiasts and stunt riders from around the country, came to New Haven to take part in the rally.
“They were taking over roads,” New Haven Police Chief Karl Jacobson said. “They were on top of oil trucks, fuel trucks. It was extremely dangerous.”
The city filed the civil lawsuit Friday, hoping to recoup the $80,000 it allegedly cost to provide the necessary police protection and coordination to keep the rally under control and maintain public safety and hold the EastCoastin companies and the events’ organizers accountable.
“It required extraordinary resources on behalf of the city’s police department, DPW, traffic and parking, and other city departments,” said Blake Sullivan, assistant corporation counsel for the City of New Haven.
Canestri Jr. was arrested for his involvement in the rally and found guilty of reckless endangerment. As part of his plea agreement, he’s not allowed to solicit, organize, hold or participate in any unpermitted organized motorcycle events in New Haven, or he faces jail time.
“This event is not safe. It was very unsafe at the time Acting Chief Dominguez and myself had to call in extra help from East Haven police, state police, all of our entire police department was ordered in, and that’s not healthy for our police department either,” Jacobson said.
“If folks are going to not follow what the police are asking you to do, are going to flaunt the law, we’re going to use the tools available to ensure that people follow the law,” Elicker said.
City leaders said EastCoastin has promised them that they will not hold an event this year, but officials are closely watching to ensure an event isn’t being planned.
The lawsuit named three corporations — EastCoastin Entertainment, LLC, EastCoastin Enterprises, LLC, and C&D Investments, LLC — and two agents — Canestri Jr. and Salvatore Fusco — as defendants.
News 8 reached out to EastCoastin for comment, but we have yet to hear back.