Queen’s student association says homecoming parties were ‘over-policed’

Police gather in Kingston's university district during homecoming parties. Darryn Davis / Global News

The student government at Queen’s University isn’t happy with how policing was handled at last weekend’s street parties.

The Alma Mater Society (AMS) claims the parties were ‘over-policed’ and the tactics used were ineffective, excessive and harmful to marginalized students.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the AMS expressed disappointment over the large gatherings of students, in defiance of the municipality’s emergency order, but also took issue with the police presence.

“We felt that not only was this excessive, but it was ineffective and the effects of increased policing are even greater for our marginalized students,” AMS Director of Communications Maddie Zarb said.

Kingston’s mayor sees the situation very differently, citing beer bottles being thrown at police, fights and a stabbing in Victoria Park.

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“I think it was a very unfortunate situation all around,” Paterson said. “Quite frankly I think police handled themselves with professionalism and ultimately had to respond in the most effective way they could.”

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“I really take offence to the fact that this is called over-policing and that the blame is on the police,” Chief of Police Antje McNeely said.

She adds the presence and response of officers are based on a number of factors including intelligence gathering, and measures taken at similar events in other communities.

“You’ve got people, influencers that are bringing people to our community, you don’t know who is going to be coming here, and so we have to be safe,” McNeely said.

“We’ve got vulnerable people in that group that are highly intoxicated. You’ve got people that are running around that are willing to prey on people that are vulnerable.

The Queen’s AMS has been referring students that feel they were unfairly targeted by police to Queen’s legal aid and a campaign has been launched to inform students of their rights.

“This outlines students’ rights when dealing with law enforcement as well as where they can report police maltreatment,” Zarb said. “It also goes over Kingston bylaws and emergency orders.”

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.

Kingston and the Islands MP and former mayor Mark Gerretsen says if anything, he’s hearing that residents want the city taking a harder line with partiers.

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“I’ve had hundreds of emails and messages saying the police should have used more force,” Gerretsen said.

He is now calling on the university to adjust its code of conduct to include off-campus events.

“And if people are charged and convicted of offences especially on weekends like this they will be expelled from the school,” Gerretsen said.

Kingston’s police chief says they will be in the university district this weekend in a similar fashion to the first homecoming weekend.

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