NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Despite warnings from the City of New Haven, the annual East Coastin end-of-the-season motorcycle event went on on Saturday.
The sounds of motorcycles could be heard all over New Haven on Saturday as enthusiasts and stunt riders from across the state and the country converged on the Elm City.
Several people were arrested, including the event organizer – the arrest stems from the stunt show, something the police chief said was promised wouldn’t happen.
Now, officials say more arrests are coming.
Ahead of the event, the city warned participants to “come at your own risk.” It was made clear the event was illegal and unwelcome.
But that didn’t stop the thousands of people who were there — both riders and spectators taking part in the event.
New Haven police were out in force at the unauthorized event. Police estimate the crowd was around 5,000 attendees – smaller than last year.
Police say the event was peaceful until later in the day on Saturday when bikers broke off and started doing stunts on Forbes Avenue. Officers in riot gear stepped in and eventually made the four arrests.
Spectators we spoke with say they wish it was a sanctioned event to make it safer and better for everyone.
Larry Dunan of New Haven said, “If they gave them their one street, let them pay for their vendors, and let them do what they’re doing, this would not have happened. This is on the city, they’re causing mayhem.”
Joel Santana of Torrington added, “No one’s really causing any harm, we’re just trying to have a good time.”
New Haven Police say they worked closely with the organizers leading up to the event.
Chief Renee Dominguez explained, “We were able to keep streets open, the parking wasn’t an issue. Yes, there were a lot of people, they were gathered on the sidewalks, they were gathered in lots, they were gathered in Dunkin’ Donuts. We didn’t get complaints from any of those individuals about people congregating.”
Dominguez says, throughout the night they focused on ‘hot spots’ and dispersing crowds that gathered in other areas like on Sargent Drive.
She added, “We would like to make contact with people, let them know the event is over, and let them know there will be no more… and move everyone on.”
Investigators are going through body cameras and surveillance video now. Police are also planning to bill the organizers for overtime for the officers that worked over the weekend.
The night’s arrests:
- Gabe Canestri, the organizer, is charged with inciting a riot and breach of peace.
- Two others were custodial arrests.
- Four people received ordinance violations and their bikes were seized.
- Six people received infractions for public drinking and other incidents.
Dominguez said of the organizers, “They disregard me, standing on the street with them, and have a stunt show anyway…We will learn from what we can from this event and work to make next year not happen, or in a different way.”