Kingston, Ont. – Police proceed to break up a huge street party in the University District in Kingston, Ont. Saturday afternoon, as thousands of students ignored pleas from police and Queen’s University to avoid large gatherings during the homecoming weekend.
Nearly 8,000 people packed Aberdeen Street and William Street near the Queen’s University campus to celebrate the first homecoming weekend in two years.
“I’ve been through crowds. There’s some crazy stuff going on,” said Tyler Shea, a first-year student at Queen’s University.
“It’s just time to celebrate university. Just having a good time, so I decided to come out,” said David Schendelman.
Kimberly Johnson of Granthshala News Ottawa saw thousands of students on the street, on front lawns as well as on porches and on the roofs of homes in the area.
A police officer was injured when cans and water bottles were hurled at officers patrolling the area.
Just before 5 p.m., Kingston Police declared Aberdeen Street and William Street an ‘excited nuisance party’ under the mayor’s emergency order.
Dozens of officers from the Kingston Police Service, Durham Regional Police and Ontario Provincial Police lined Aberdeen Street as officers issued $2,000 tickets to people attending, hosting and partying on the street. Forty members of the OPP emergency response team were also seen on the streets in the university district.
At 5:20 pm, the police withdrew the furious nuisance party announcement saying the road had been cleared.
Alex Francis said, “We went to investigate it. It’s a little crazy.”
“We did our best to stay back, there are a lot of people,” said another student at Granthshala News Ottawa.
Other students said they wanted to celebrate homecoming after last year was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Especially since last year how we didn’t get a HOCO and COVID kind of hit everything, I think everyone is going to be very tough this year,” said a student near Aberdeen Street.
“We’re still staying safe, we’re all fully vaccinated and we’re just trying to have fun.”
After 1 p.m. police said that large crowds had started gathering in the university district, and many roadways were becoming congested.
Just after 1:30 p.m., police said there was a “shaky crowd” on Aberdeen Street.
Kingston said on Twitter: “One officer has been thrown on the ground towards police with injuries.”
cast. Greg Anderson told CP24 of Toronto that beer cans and water bottles were thrown at officers patrolling the University District.
Hundreds of people were seen on the streets, lawns in front of properties and even on the roof of a house in the university district on Saturday afternoon.
Officers from Durham Regional Police and OPP were in Kingston on Saturday afternoon to assist with enforcement.
In a statement on Twitter, Queen’s University said it “condemns false signals in the University District and reports some individuals throwing projectiles at police that resulted in the injury of an officer.
“These actions will be actively pursued under our Student Code of Conduct.”
Queen’s University had said that this year most homecoming weekend events will be conducted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Queens Gales face the Carlton Ravens in OUA Football Action in Kingston on Saturday afternoon.
Kingston police and bylaws, along with Queen’s University, were urging students to respect COVID-19 protocols and avoid large street parties during homecoming weekend.
On Thursday, the Queen’s Principal Patrick Dean sent a message to students asking them not to attend big events during their homecoming.
“I am asking for your help to stop social gatherings and act responsibly over the coming weekend,” the dean said. “As members of both the Queen and the Kingston community, we must all demonstrate leadership, respect one another, and be mindful and aware of provincial laws and local bylaws that exist to protect us.”
Homecoming traditionally brings students and alumni into the city, and informal events of past years have included massive street parties throughout the weekend.
Under Ontario’s COVID-19 protocol, gatherings are limited to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
On 10 September, the City of Kingston issued a new emergency order, including increased penalties and new enforcement powers to discourage social gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new emergency order increases the administrative monetary penalty for participating in an ‘aggravated nuisance party’ to $2,000. Once declared a nuisance party, the police have the power to immediately issue fines for the violation.
Under the Reopening Ontario Act, organizers and hosts of parties can be fined $10,000.
This is a developing story. Granthshala News Ottawa will have the latest as it becomes available