The numbers from Saturday’s faux homecoming event — or FOCO — in London are out and they are staggering.
Roughly 11,000 people attended the unsanctioned event on Broughdale Avenue which was sparked in defiance of Western University moving the official homecoming celebrations to late October for the second year in a row.
Police say the crowds made it difficult for EMS to get to those in need, including 54 injured people, 37 of whom required hospital attention.
Among the injured and ill, there were 35 intoxicated patients, seven drug overdoses, seven traumatic injuries such as falls, two victims of assault, and three people being hit by cars.
“It’s hard to understand just how volatile that situation can be, where the wrong action taken by police, or the response received by the group could result in a much more violent reaction,” said Deputy Chief of Operations, Daryl Longworth.
Longworth says that while the potential was there for things to get out of control, London police always felt in control.
“We can’t stop things from happening, but we can continue to work with the students, to set up prevention measures like we did to ensure public safety. It’s really the best option we have.”
Ward 6 Councillor Phil Squire was extremely vocal about his concerns for his ward. Squire spoke with AM980 at Police headquarters, and says it’s inevitable for unsanctioned events to get out of control.
“The real issue is that Broughdale has become a tourist attraction, where people who aren’t even students are coming from all over to take part. Some of these people are looking for trouble, so it won’t be long until things get out of hand,” he says.
Police listed the following charges, arrests, and tickets:
- 8 City of London by-law public nuisance charges laid and three more pending
- 964 Provincial Offence Act warnings – mainly related to liquor and trespassing offences
- 50 Provincial Offence Act notices – mainly related to liquor and trespassing offences
- 8 Provincial Offence Act arrests – liquor-related, trespassing, fail to identify
- 2 Criminal Code charges
- 1 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act charge
- 5 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act warnings
As well, police say the overtime costs associated with the so-called FOCO stands at $36,000 but additional costs are still being counted.