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Thousands of partygoers pose challenge for police over Queen’s homecoming weekend

A downtown Kingston business owner is frustrated after her sign was vandalized over the weekend, and the owner is linking the vandalization to 'faux-coming' weekend. Darryn Davis / Global News

Kingston police had their hands full over the weekend dealing with, at times, thousands of rowdy and sometimes aggressive homecoming partiers in the Queen’s University District.

Over the weekend, excessively large gatherings took place, fines were given, and charges were laid against a number of people. A Kingston police officer was sent to hospital after being assaulted during an arrest, police say.

Read more: Kingston police warn against large Queen’s University homecoming gatherings

The crowds were at their peak Saturday night and into Sunday morning, with partiers at Aberdeen Street and then Victoria Park, despite multiple warnings from both Queen’s and city officials that large gatherings would not be tolerated.

When officers tried to break up these gatherings, police say some of the partiers resisted.

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Sgt. Steve Koopman said in an interview Sunday that police feel frustrated by the behaviour. “We’ve had multiple beer bottles and other objects thrown in the direction of our officers while they’re simply trying to conduct their duty.”

Click to play video: 'Town and gown leaders make a plea against large street parties as the first of two Queen’s Homecoming weekends get underway.' Town and gown leaders make a plea against large street parties as the first of two Queen’s Homecoming weekends get underway.
Town and gown leaders make a plea against large street parties as the first of two Queen’s Homecoming weekends get underway – Oct 15, 2021

There is currently no update on the officer that was injured on Saturday by a thrown object, but Koopman said the officer was not seriously injured.

Due to the intense crowds, other police forces, including Brockville police, were also at the scene to assist Kingston police as the crowds relocated from the University District to Victoria Park in the early hours of Sunday.

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In crowds like this, it’s typical to see criminal code offences, assaults, resistant behaviour, property damage, mischief and theft, Koopman said. “And now, of course, they are going against all COVID-related rules and our emergency order that was put in place by the mayor.”

In early September, Mayor Bryan Paterson an emergency order that allows added enforcement when an aggravated nuisance party was declared. This includes fines up to $2,000.

Read more: Nearly 60 charged during aggravated nuisance party in University District: Kingston police

At least two aggravated nuisance parties were declared Saturday night and into Sunday evening. It is currently unclear exactly how many arrests and fines were handed out over the weekend.

Patrick Deane, Queens University principal, released a statement Sunday in response to the street parties.

“It is with extreme disappointment that I write this statement this morning,” Deane said.

“Despite the extraordinary efforts of our staff, student leaders, security, city officials, Kingston police and emergency services, the last 24 hours have seen our community seriously disrupted by the reckless behaviour of some of our students, as well as by other individuals who came here for the sole purpose of causing trouble.”

Click to play video: 'Massive crowd gathers for ‘fake’ McMaster University homecoming party, police lay charges' Massive crowd gathers for ‘fake’ McMaster University homecoming party, police lay charges
Massive crowd gathers for ‘fake’ McMaster University homecoming party, police lay charges – Oct 4, 2021

In an interview with Global News prior to the weekend, Deane said the school is still working with city officials to identify individuals who break the law to see if they are also in contravention of the school’s code of conduct. Those who are found in breach of the code could be sanctioned or even expelled.

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In his statement, Deane noted that Queen’s University was not the only school dealing with such gatherings.

“We know the last few years have been a struggle for young people, but such behaviour is dangerous, irresponsible, and ultimately inexcusable,” Deane said.

— with files from Global News’ Alexandra Mazur. 

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