Last week, Mayor Bryan Paterson said Queen’s University had committed $350,000 to the City of Kingston “to help pay for extra enforcement costs incurred by the city for parties in the University District,” including increased police presence and COVID-19 safety messaging.
Just yesterday, the Queen’s Alma Mater Society (AMS) and affiliated Social Issues Commission launched a petition imploring the City to allocate the money to harm reduction and emergency services instead of law enforcement.
“The city is now deciding how to allocate the large donation Queen’s gave them, and we call on them to allocate this money to Kingston’s health care services, fighting the Kingston housing crisis, supporting those experiencing homelessness, non-law enforcement services like the fire department and harm reduction strategies like water stations and food trucks,” the petition reads.
“The Kingston Police are an overfunded service that represent an institution rooted in oppression and bias. Over the past few months we have seen increased surveillance, enforcement and aggression towards students.”
The petition claims that Kingston Police are “essentially making a profit from fines,” noting that while September cost Kingston Police $124,443 in overtime to manage student parties in the University District, police and bylaw enforcement laid around $118,500 in fines in a single evening.
“Kingston police do not need our money, and do not make many Queen’s students feel safe or protected,” the petition reads. “The effects of increased policing are even greater for marginalized students who already experience heightened police scrutiny and violence.”
“We are against the over policing of Queen’s students, and want Queen’s funds to go to city services that actually support Queen’s students.”
One commenter wrote, “Police made the situation worse for everyone by escalating existing tensions. Had the party simply been left alone on the Aberdeen block as in previous years, the sprawl out into family areas would not have occurred and everyone would have been happier. Kingston housing is in a state of crisis for locals and students alike and I’d rather see this money go towards that.”
Another comment reads, “I agree with this issue. Kingston police are extremely over funded while other social services are underfunded.”
At the time of publication, the petition has garnered 614 of the targeted 1,000 signatures.