Drake, aka Toronto’s sweetheart, has come under fire from the police recently for a fall outfit which consisted of a Hells Angels-supporting hoodie.
Toronto police and other Canadian officials have said this demonstrates support of a violent criminal organization which has been in Canadian courts on charges of drug trafficking, weapons charges and murder.
“Any endorsement, no matter it’s form, for a criminal org is frustrating for all law enforcement including TPS,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders tweeted over the weekend. “It’s possible Drake didn’t know his clothing was a show of support but, if he did, then i have real concerns w/ his disregard for the values held by this city & TPS.”
In the photo, which was published to the American rapper Travis Scott’s Instagram—and was later regrammed by Route 81, the shop around the corner from a former Hells Angels clubhouse which sells the gang’s merchandise—Drake can be seen wearing a Toronto Chapter Big Red Machine sweatshirt.
Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, of BC's provincial anti-gang agency, told the Vancouver Sun the hoodie contains several references to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club—particularly the numbers 8 and 1, which are stand-ins for the letters “H” and “A.”
"They want individuals like him to wear their paraphernalia and propaganda to portray a positive image, to counteract and provide a counter-message to messages and reporting from the media and police and, quite frankly, from the victims who they've impacted," Houghton said in an article published Friday.
Police have expressed concern over the message Drake might be sending to his followers as a representative of Toronto who was just gifted a key to the city in 2016 by Toronto mayor John Tory.
“Wearing gang-related clothing or paraphernalia may seem harmless, but by purchasing these items you are directly supporting illegal activities such as drug trafficking and violence, and they may be putting themselves at risk of being targeted by rival outlaw motorcycle gang members,” said OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes. “We are talking about an organized crime group.”
The artist has, most glaringly, been criticized for wearing Hells Angels gear after a summer of gun violence in Toronto during which a number of his friends, including Smoke Dawg, Ariela Navarro-Fenoy, and Duvel Hibbert, have been gunned down.
“Drake is going to have to choose between the key to the city or supporting the Hells Angels and organized crime,” said TPA boss Mike McCormack. “We feel you can’t do both.
VICE reached out to Drake’s PR team for comment, and received the following response: “No comment.”
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