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Festival in west end Toronto park turns violent, 9 taken to hospital

Click to play video: 'Incident at festival in west end Toronto park results in several injuries'
Incident at festival in west end Toronto park results in several injuries
WATCH: Officers with the Toronto Police Service and paramedics attended a chaotic scene on Saturday. A festival held in Earlscourt Park turned violent, resulting in several injuries – Aug 5, 2023

Several people were injured, including one seriously, after a violent incident at a festival in a west end Toronto park.

Chaotic scenes began to unfold at Earlscourt Park in Toronto fairly early on Saturday.

Toronto police said in a social media post after 10 a.m. that officers were called to Earlscourt Park, at St. Clair Avenue West and Caledonia Road, for reports of a fight and a person with a knife.

In an update, police told Global News a festival was being held in the park. Officers believe a counterprotest also took place at the same time and the two opposing groups got into a fight.

Toronto paramedics said they were assessing a number of people.

In another update just before 12 p.m., police said nine people had been taken to hospital. Eight had non-life-threatening injuries and one person had serious injuries after being stabbed.

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Then, around 3 p.m., police said the event had “turned violent again.”

In a post on social media, police said officers “from across the city are assisting in gaining control,” adding a plea for the public to stay out of the area.

Just before 5 p.m., Toronto police said the crowd was “dispersing onto the roadways” and warned of extreme delays in the area.

Tents were damaged during the incident, police said. Max Trotta / Global News

Lambros Kiriakakos, chair of a Canadian-Eritrean organization called CECCO, said the attack happened during the annual Eritrean Festival at Earlscourt Park.

He said festival helpers were attacked as they were setting up the event in the morning. “This is a long weekend celebration and they were trying to get it cancelled,” he told Global News. “I don’t think the threat will persist.”

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Kiriakakos said his organization had reached out to Toronto police earlier in the week, fearing an attack. He said phone calls were made to two local police divisions voicing concern the festival could be attacked.

“The festival organizer informed the police earlier this week,” he said.

In an Aug. 3 post on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, the group warned of a threat to the festival and asked Toronto police for help.

A spokesperson for Toronto police said they “cannot confirm” the information when asked by Global News. Police also said they were unable to confirm a link between the attack, injuries and Eritrea Festival.

Coun. Alejandra Bravo said she was “shocked and saddened” to hear about the violence during “a political protest of a festival” in the park. She asked the public to give police space to work while officers investigate.

Images from the scene showed tents were destroyed during the incident.

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