A traffic checkpoint near the gateway community’s ferry terminal led to a dozen charges being laid Thursday, although the nature of the alleged offences wasn’t specified. Police did say the checkpoint was conducted in relation to an earlier warning about the arrival of up to 200 motorcyclists with potential links to organized crime.
That warning came last week in the form of a joint press conference held by the RCMP and RNC, which didn’t pull any punches.
“The motorcycle gangs often try to mask or disguise their real intention, which is criminal activity,” RCMP Sgt. Boyd Merrill said. “When they have events within the province, they’re really networking while they’re here to expand their activities criminally within Newfoundland and Labrador, and the message is loud and clear: they’re not welcome.”
Some have suggested police should leave the bikers be - that this media event was about the two police forces trying to provoke the group members into an incident and arrests.
Police will no doubt be on the lookout for any criminal activity this weekend, but they’re not going so far as to arrest everyone who arrives on the island atop a motorcycle.
The RCMP and RNC’s primary job is to protect this province’s residents, and the idea that they’d attempt to provoke an incident that would jeopardize public safety isn’t a thought worth entertaining.
Other readers, meanwhile, argued that all of these bikers are dangerous criminals and shouldn’t be allowed on any asphalt in Newfoundland and Labrador.
We should be cautious about this characterization too. Granted, the public and the media aren’t privy to all the knowledge the police clearly have about this group of visitors, but that’s exactly the point.
Is this event a legitimate one, with two or three members with ties to organized crime tagging along for the ride as cover? Maybe, but we don’t know and shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for specifics.
Last week’s RCMP/RNC press conference wasn’t really intended for the public or the media, but it did use news outlets as a conduit to deliver a message to the bikers: We know you’re coming and when you’re arriving, and we know other things about you too.
Let’s take this as a reminder that the police many times act in the public’s best interest to maintain law and order because they have more information than we do. But let’s also apply that same logic to the bikers, and realize that we can’t be too quick to dub them all as criminals when we don’t have the full picture.