NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Thousands of riders are expected this weekend for a large motorcycle party and stunt show, but New Haven officials say “come at your own risk” because you could be arrested or ticketed.
“Do not come to this event if you care about New Haven’s public safety. Do not come to this event if you care about the fact that we’re devoting police resources to this event that we could be devoting to other things,” said Mayor Justin Elicker.
Organizers with motorcycle shop East Coastin’ say they’ve been working behind the scenes for months to try to get the proper permits for the event. East Coastin’ says they were strung along by the city, but the city says the shop never actually applied through the proper channels.
“They know we’ve tried to jump through hoops to get this to go. We’ve gotten shut down multiple times. We’re here trying to do the right thing,” said Sal Fusco with East Coastin’ Crew.
“The group has consistently said one thing and done another,” Elicker said.
And then there’s the timing. East Coastin’ says they already postponed the party to late September at the city’s request. But now the timing of the event is putting added pressure on a police department already struggling with understaffing, a sharp spike in crime, and reeling from the death of one of their own last week.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Police Chief Renee Dominguez explained. “We had a conversation with the organizers on Monday and we said ‘our officers are grieving, our officers are hurting. Our officers are dealing with a wake and a funeral Thursday and Friday. Have some compassion.'”
“The last thing we want to do is throw any kind of weight on the New Haven Police Department,” said Fusco. “We know they’re going through a lot. They’ve been working with us as much as they can.”
According to police, last year up to 10,000 motorcycle, dirt bike, and ATV enthusiasts descended on the Elm City for an unofficial, unsanctioned party and stunt show. This year, 3,000 riders from across the country are expected to attend.
Mayor Elicker sent residents a message about the event Friday through the city’s emergency alert system, advising them to avoid areas that are likely to be most impacted, including Forbes Avenue, Alabama Avenue and Stiles Street.
The police department will be out in full force on Saturday, and anyone who participates in the event runs the risk of being ticketed or even arrested.