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New Haven Issues Warning Ahead of Unauthorized Motorcycle Rally

An event that drew an estimated 10,000 people last year is expected to happen despite organizers planning it without city permits.

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New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker has a message to people planning to attend Saturday’s EastCoastin’ Motorcycle rally: “Don’t come.”

Despite the city’s efforts to shut down the event, organizers say they are moving forward with plans to hold it.

The situation is contentious. During a news gathering Wednesday morning strong words were exchanged. There is frustration on both sides.

The EastCoastin’ motorcycle rally is scheduled for Saturday and New Haven Police delivered a message for organizers that left little for interpretation.

“This is a non-permitted event. This is not sanctioned by the city, and this will not be tolerated,” said acting Police Chief Renee Dominguez.

In 2020, the EastCoastin’ rally drew a massive crowd, estimated by police to be about 10,000 people. Discouraging that, the city said it met with organizers many times to discuss safer and more legal options. Organizers say they tried to cooperate.

“I said, I’m willing to go down whatever avenue you need me to go down. Whatever the permits cost, whatever it is, let’s do this the right way, and they couldn’t give me a legitimate answer,” said organizer Gabriel Canestri.

The event could draw a similar crowd to last year which was also held without permits. Police say many area hotels are near capacity for the weekend. One area resident we spoke with is concerned.

Thommy Shaw says she has had trouble with ATV and dirt bikes in her neighborhood. The idea of more motorcycles in the city has her worried.

“I am expecting disruption, because that is just what it’s going to be,” said Shaw.

Ken Johnson is a motorcycle enthusiast and has attended rallies as far away as Daytona.

“There’s nothing wrong with it. Just a bunch of guys having fun,” Johnson said.

Johnson was considering attending Saturday’s event until he learned it was not sanctioned by the city.

“I don’t want any problems because if you’re with one biker you’re along with all of them,” he said.

Organizers say they refuse to cancel the event and used social media to caution from out of town that this is a “come at your own risk” event.

“We are pushing for this event regardless,” said Canestri. “People are going to come and we’re going to stay true to it.”

New Haven’s mayor though, wants his message to be clear.

“Do not come to this event if you care about New Haven Public safety,” said Justin Elicker. “Do not come to this event if you care about the fact that we are devoting police resources to this event that we could be devoting to other things.”

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