July 01, 2018

Bike night refuses to ban vests over gang attendance allegations

Every two weeks, Bike Night in Paris raises money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Grand Eerie.
The event brings out thousands of motorcyclists in an effort to promote Paris tourism, combat stigma around bikers and raise money for the charity—over $23,000 since it began.

For all of its 17 installments, Myles Rusak, the CEO of the Big Brothers Big Sisters branch, said the event has gone very smoothly.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Grand Eerie CEO

Myles Rusak, CEO of Big Brothers of Big Sisters of Grand Eerie, began the event in 2017 to raise money for BBBSW programming.

But recently, he received a complaint about the event—from the Ontario Provincial Police.
Rusak said that police approached him about Bike Night In Paris having attendees who are part of motorcycle gangs , such as Hells Angels, and have asked the event to ban logoed vests.

Of the 3,000 to 4,000 weekly attendees, Rusak admitted five to six people could be affiliated with such groups. Still, he said that they’ve never had any issues at the event—which he said the OPP corroborated— and he refused to impose the rule.
“Our stance on it has always been that, if they are in our event, and keeping themselves together, they’re having a good time, they’re supporting the cause, they’re welcome to be here,” he said. “This is a public space and a public event.”

Rusak said uniformed police officers have begun attending the event and hassling people, possibly to dissuade them from attending. Bringing tape measures to check seat and handlebar heights, checking helmets, signals and licenses are examples that he said make the event less fun to attend.

They have even set up road blocks in Paris, allegedly waving through cars and stopping motorcyclists on their way in.

Since these checks began, the attendance of the event has dropped by half, and revenue by even more.
“I like the community safety aspect and I like that they’re doing their jobs, but I don’t think they need to go to the extreme of actually forcing people to respond to things when they haven’t done anything to provoke that kind of behavior,” he said.

Rusak is calling for police to stop profiling the motorcyclists that attend the event, and to consider the impact it could have on the kids who rely on Big Brothers Big Sisters’ services.

Brant County's OPP detachment did not offer any comment.


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