A SQUAD of 50 Hells Angels will lead a parade through the streets of Sunderland next month as part of the Tall Ships festival.
As start port for The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018, the city will welcome 54 sailing vessels and their crews from around the world for five days of celebration from July 10 to 14.
And, on Thursday July 12 at 3pm, the crews will take part in a spectacular 1,200 strong parade through the city – with the Hells Angels leading the way.
The bikers’ Club House, Angel’s Place, was used to house and rehabilitate injured sailors from the epic Battle of Trafalgar, in which Admiral Horatio Nelson took fire against a larger fleet of French and Spanish ships.
And the Hells Angels carefully guard the building’s very own Holy Grail – a full, battle log naming the Sunderland sailors killed in the Battle of Trafalgar alongside Nelson.
The Crew Parade will set off from the Civic Centre Car Park and the route will go along Burdon Road, Fawcett Street, across Wearmouth Bridge, down to Bonnersfield, finishing at the stage area at St Peters Campus.
The Parade ends with a Prize-giving Ceremony at St Peter’s, led by Sail Training International – which organises the Races – and attended by The Mayor of Sunderland.
The Hells Angels, leading the parade, will be followed by 152 Sunderland sail trainees and the ships’ crews, who will parade in the alphabetical order of their ships.
Sunderland City Council culture portfolio holder, Councillor John Kelly said: “There will also be stilt walkers and a real carnival-style feel to the parade.
“There will be great viewing all along the route – from Burdon Road for the start and down Fawcett Street – and the plan is to give the crews a fantastic Wearside welcome.”
A spokesman for the Hells Angels said: “It’s brilliant that the port of Sunderland, one of the oldest and greatest ports in Britain, has been chosen to hold this internationally famous event and we are very honoured to be leading the parade.”
For further information about The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018 visit www.tallshipssunderland.com.
A second investigation has been launched into the conduct of a firefighter biker club with links to the Hells Angels, New Westminster’s fire chief said Thursday.
Tim Armstrong said his department is investigating the conduct of two New West firefighters who joined with three Burnaby firefighters and a retired Vancouver employee to form the Florian’s Knights, a motorcycle club that has been associating with the Hells Angels.
Earlier this week, Burnaby formed a committee to look at the conduct of its municipal employees who are part of the Knights.
Armstrong said New Westminster city officials are concerned about the potential harm to the community’s confidence in the fire department.
“It is definitely a concern to myself on behalf of our department and the city,” Armstrong said. “We are doing our own investigation and, from what I understand, the RCMP are investigating this group as well.”
Armstrong said he only learned about the Knights this week when Postmedia reported that the firefighter bikers had been on rides with the Hells Angels.
“This is all very new to me too as well. I don’t have a lot of insight into the whole organized crime issue. But definitely we don’t condone that type of activity within our department,” he said. “The members of our department hold themselves in high regard within the community as public servants and I think we are all troubled with the potential for any loss of confidence within the organization.”
The Knights founder, Burnaby firefighter Nick Elmes, posed recently for a photo with the Kelowna Hells Angels president, Damiano Dipopolo, and three other full-patch Hells Angels. And Elmes bought a North Burnaby house with another man that’s being used at the Knights clubhouse.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said Thursday that his investigation is also looking into the operation of a clubhouse in a residential neighbourhood.
“I am always concerned if any department in the city is in a position of drawing unwanted attention as a result of the activities of some members,” Corrigan said. “We have an obligation to make sure that we respond promptly and that we commence an investigation quickly and we’ve done that.”
He said interviews with interested parties have started and that the city has consulted lawyers to clarify what it “can and can’t do.”
“There are real limits on what an employer can do about someone’s life outside of their employment,” Corrigan said. “But the negative reflection on the city and the negative reflection on the fire department is something I think everyone across the board is concerned about and wants to alleviate as quickly as possible.”
Corrigan said he doesn’t understand why the Knights would hang around with the notorious biker gang. Three Hells Angels chapters are currently battling in court with the B.C. government over allegations theirs is a criminal organization and should have to forfeit three clubhouses. That civil trial recently adjourned until the fall.
“It seems rather naive to think that you can have this association with the Hells Angels and not be hurt by it. I am surprised that anyone would put themselves in that position given the high regard that is held for firefighters and their reputation in the community,” Corrigan said.
Burnaby’s investigation will look at the depth of the Knights relationship with the Hells Angels and whether there are security concerns raised by it.
“I think we are going to investigate exactly what level of engagement there is, and whether there is any of those potential issues that we should be concerned about, if this goes beyond kind of a naive infatuation to an area where it could be problematic,” Corrigan said. “I think all of us are all aware that gang infiltration into organizations is a huge problem in our society.”