The East Coastin' Crew is a badass group of guys who do some amazing stunts on Harley Davidson motorcycles. For the last five years, the East Coastin' Crew has put on an end-of-Summer party at their shop in New Haven, Connecticut, which is actually located in an old church. Year after year, their party's attendance has been growing. Last year, they had almost 10,000 bikers crowding the streets of New Haven's industrial area. With the event growing to this crazy size, the Mayor of New Haven was determined to make sure that the 2021 event was not going to happen. The boys from East Coastin' tried to work with the local municipality and get the required permits to stage the event, but they stonewalled them at every step. Without permits, the event was not sanctioned, and the Mayor held a press conference warning bikers not to show up. He warned people that law enforcement would be ready to make mass arrests, so basically the message was to stay away. East Coastin' posted on their social media that the 2021 block party was taking place, but you had to come at your own risk. The crowd this year was about 5,000 bikers, so some riders clearly did not want police problems and decided to stay away.
Usually, there's an event or show going on for us at the same time as the East Coastin' block party. This year, we made a point to be free so we could attend East Coastin''s 2021 event. Man, was I glad that we did.
The exciting event takes place in an industrial area underneath a major highway. We arrived around noontime, only to find that thousands of bikers had already arrived. The local Dunkin Donuts parking lot was filled wall to wall with motorcycles. Bikes of all types were everywhere we looked. The police had a huge presence, considering that this was an unsanctioned event. Road blocks were set up on the side streets, which is usually where the East Coastin' guys do their motorcycle stunts. There was a party atmosphere, but with all the police, there was a tension in the air as well - a feeling that things could go wrong quickly. The crowd just kept getting bigger. Stunt riders from as far as California and Las Vegas were on deck to rip up the streets of New Haven. As the crowd eagerly awaited to see when and where the stunts would start, the cops seemed to have the event on lockdown. Every so often, a stray daredevil would start burning rubber or doing a wheelie down the crowd-lined streets. Within seconds, they would be descended on by cops on bikes, who would stop the fun and issue the rider a summons.
The word was that everything would kick off around 3:30 p.m. With only minutes until showtime, the sound of screeching tires and smoke from burning rubber started rising from the road behind the church. Thousands of people started walking and running to where the action was. Police could do nothing to stop the throngs of people descending on the closed street. Burnout circles in the middle of the street, full bagger wheelies, endos, you name it - if a stunt could be done on a motorcycle, these guys were doing it here. The police would form a line with riot shields and police SUVs and slowly move the crowd, trying to take back the street. Once they cleared one street, the crowd and the bikers would shift to the next street. This game of cat and mouse went on for about three hours. Things quieted down around dusk, and the party moved to the surrounding hotels and motels, where the bikers started ripping it up in the motel parking lots.
For the amount of people at the event, we were surprised that we saw no fights, and basically everyone was having a good time and enjoying the action. The police's spin on the story was that there were thousands of out-of-control bikers taking over their town and it had to be stopped. So, word came down that they arrested the main guy from East Coastin' and charged him with inciting a riot and various other crimes. He had to post a $10,000 bail bond for his release, which he did. The town of New Haven is also suing him to pay over $100,000 in fines and restitutions for the cost of the police and other town agencies that showed up to control the event. No word on what the East Coastin' guys are going to do.
The big question is: will the event still take place in 2022? We know one thing for sure - if it does, we will be there!