This article includes descriptions of violence and may be triggering for some readers. The Peer Support Centre offers drop-in services and empathetic peer-based support and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Online services can be accessed here.
On Mar. 17 and 19, thousands flooded the streets of the student district for St. Patrick’s Day gatherings. Kingston Police monitored the crowds despite outcry from Queen’s students. Last semester’s Homecoming celebrations saw multiple alleged incidents of police misconduct.
The University District Safety Initiative (UDSI) was in effect between Mar. 10 to 20. Under the UDSI, students can face fines up to $2,000 and sanctions under Queen’s Student Code of Conduct if they violate bylaws related to nuisance parties, obstructing roadways, excessive noise, alcohol-related offences, and failure to comply with a bylaw or police officer.
According to Kingston Police’s press release, there were a total of 41 open liquor charges, three public intoxication charges, seven underage drinking charges, and one for amplification of sound issues on Mar. 17.
Bylaw enforcement statistics also revealed a total of 24 charges for Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMP) that Thursday. For Mar. 19, Bylaw Enforcement statistics showed 13 charges for failing to leave premises of a nuisance party, eight for hosting or sponsoring a nuisance party, six for amplification of sound, six for yelling or shouting, and three for obstructing an officer.
John Daugherty, ArtSci ’23, encountered police over the weekend.
“There was a crowd of cops arresting someone, and I screamed ‘f—ing pigs’ while giving them the middle finger,” Daugherty said in an interview with The Journal.
Daugherty was then approached by an officer. While he was leaving the area who grabbed from behind and brought him over to where arrests were being made. Despite repeating he didn’t consent to be searched, officers searched Daugherty and asked if he wanted a lawyer.
“I was sitting in a jail cell thinking, ‘I’m not even drunk. I’m being arrested for public intoxication’,” he said. “I know that I was arrested because I was calling them ‘f—king pigs.’”
According to Daugherty, he wasn’t subjected to any kind of breathalyzer or impairment test. When he asked the supervising officer what evidence they had that he was publicly intoxicated, he was told the decision was “based off of the officer’s discretion.”
“Taking an officer’s discretion, for face value, I just think that is just so backwards—it felt like a dream because it just felt so ridiculous.”
Proving his innocence, Daugherty said, will come with a financial burden. He plans to reach out to AMS-provided resources for legal aid to pursue his case but is ultimately upset at the City of Kingston’s handling of St. Patrick’s weekend. Due to it being a dead-end street, he said Aberdeen St. could be blocked off without disrupting the path of emergency vehicles.
“When [Police] push everyone off the street and into basements and its backyards, they have no idea what’s going on. It’s not really as safe as they’re trying to present it as,” he said.
Ethan Chilcott, ArtSci ’25, witnessed several student-police interactions over the weekend. He alleged that some involved racism towards students of colour.
“We noticed an officer ticketing a POC who was crossing Aberdeen a good twenty feet away from any of the partiers,” Chilcott said in an interview with The Journal.
According to Chilcott, the student was wearing a backpack and clothes that didn’t indicate any means of joining street parties.
“At the urging of a friend who is a POC, thus afraid to intervene, I asked an officer what was happening,” Chilcott said.
Chilcott said he was then grabbed and pushed away by a second officer. He was told to “get off” Aberdeen St. or face a fine. Chilcott said he and his friends were pushed away by the officer, before he could respond.
“[My friend] walked back to the porch to tell her girlfriend what happened, the officer aggressively chased her, grabbed her by her backpack and yanked her backwards,” he said.
“She was dragged off Aberdeen by the officer and went home crying while the rest of us were threatened with massive fines for trying to protest this treatment, while nothing was done about the actual throng of people in the middle [of Aberdeen].”
After the encounter, Chilcott tried to obtain the officer’s badge number to file a complaint. He received more threats of fines from officers.
Blair Crew, Director of Queen’s Legal Aid (QLA), said Canadians have a right to know an officer’s badge number and even their name. However, when individuals find themselves in a confrontation with police, it’s often not a “wise strategy” to ask for it.
“You are essentially fighting with the person who has the discretion about whether or not you’re going to be charged,” Crew said in an interview with The Journal.
Crew suggested recording interactions, which is also a right all individuals have.
“If things go badly, that’s an appropriate response and it certainly will get some police accountability.”
According to Crew, QLA was “pleased” they’ve received fewer cases from students following St. Patrick’s Day than they did over Homecoming weekend.
“Compared to what we saw in the fall, it appears to us that the police were being a little less aggressive and were using a little bit more discretion to not lay charges than we perceive.”
Since COVID-19 emergency orders are no longer in effect, students were “simply restricted” to the regular nuisance party bylaw. According to Crew, this means police officers could no longer charge students who were merely present at a party.
“One of the things that’s significant is under the nuisance party bylaw, unlike the emergency order, with the aggravated nuisance parties it’s relevant if you don’t know that you’re participating in an aggravated nuisance party,” Crew said.
Officers need to say an area has been declared a nuisance party and give individuals the opportunity to leave the premise. A charge under the nuisance party bylaw involves failure to leave when directed to do so.
In an email sent to The Journal, Julie Brown, Queen’s media relations officer, said the University’s priority is safety and well-being for all students and the Kingston community.
“Queen’s University and its many campus and community partners, including the AMS and SGPS took a coordinated approach to encourage students to celebrate respectfully, safely, and responsibly during community celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day,” Brown wrote on behalf of the University.
“Should a student receive a ticket they wish to appeal, the University is ready to help them navigate the system to review their appeal options online and if they wish to speak to someone at the university for assistance, they are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Journal reached out to the Kingston Police for a statement but did not receive a response in time for publication.
All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to email@example.com.