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Queen’s Homecoming weekend sees 8,000 in attendance despite public health warnings

On Saturday, over 8,000 people flooded the streets of Kingston’s University District for unsanctioned homecoming celebrations, despite pleas from officials not to.

The “celebrations” began at around 1:00pm, after a heavy rainfall, where over 2,000 people gathered on Aberdeen street in less than an hour. 

By 2:30pm, Kingston Police reported that a “volatile crowd” had gathered on Aberdeen Street,  where one officer sustained an injury. 

While the “celebrations” were occurring, a sanctioned online Homecoming event was occurring, with CBC Radio Host Shaley Rodgers hosting. However, this was clouded by behaviour that increasingly became reckless. 

At its peak, the media and police observed approximately 8,000 people in attendance. People were seen “surfing” a couch across the crowds, climbing trees, and violating public health protocols. 

The behaviour was complete deviance of public health guidance and of instructions by Kingston Police and University officials. One house had a sign written on a bedsheet encouraging enforcement officials to add their  written encouraging 

One the crowd began getting out of hand, Kingston Police declared the celebrations to be an “aggravated nuisance gathering.”

“Anyone on Aberdeen St as well as William St between University Ave and Division St can expect to receive a $2,000 Administrative Monetary Penalty (AMP) and be ordered to leave the area.” Kingston Police said. “Anyone who disobeys can be arrested for obstructing police.”

The large briefly subsided until about 10:00 pm, a large street party broke out on University and Johnson St. After some individuals began allegedly fighting police officers, an aggravated nuisance gathering was once again called. 

Crowds once again dispersed, and a short time later appeared at Victoria Park. Over 2,000 people were seen at this time, where cars were seen to be vandalized. 

The unsanctioned homecoming gatherings saw the most police enforcement in the University District in years. Many applauded the enforcement saying that it was necessary under the circumstances. 

However, Queen’s University’s Alma Mater Society, the undergraduate student association, released a statement stating that they do not agree with the enforcement for the purposes of public health. 

“We do not agree with increased policing of students as a solution to health care infractions,” wrote the Social Issues Commission of the Alma Mater Society. 

“While the increased police presence is meant to enforce public health standards it presents a greater risk for students being assaulted or mistreated by police.”

Gillian Armstrong, YGK News

On the following day, Queen’s made a statement about “reckless” behaviour of many of its students and ones that came from out of town.

“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,” wrote Principal Patrick Deane.

They say they’re now assessing damage and working with student volunteers to clean up much of the litter left throughout the streets of Kingston.

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