City suggests cancelling Homecoming

In response to Saturday’s unsanctioned Aberdeen Street party, permanent residents and the mayor are proposing the city either bring in increased force or cancel next year’s Homecoming altogether.

In a statement to the press, Mayor Harvey Rosen called the future of the annual festivities into question.

“If Homecoming is to continue next year and in the future, other means of maintaining order will need to be used,” he said in the release.

In Tuesday’s Kingston Whig-Standard, Rosen was quoted as saying the city would not wait for the problem to reoccur.

“We might have to look at bringing in a water cannon or other technology or have officers with dogs going through the crowd. Water cannons may be something we have to look at,” he told the Whig-Standard.

In his statement, Rosen said the events that took place were expected, but the “magnitude was a surprise and tremendously disturbing.”

He acknowledged the majority of participants in Homecoming’s sanctioned events were respectful and lawful, but said people who broke the law will “tarnish the memory of this weekend.”

“I can assure the law-abiding citizens of Kingston that mob scenes like the one that formed on Saturday evening and continued into Sunday morning will not occur again, and measures to insure [sic] that fact will be taken in the future,” he said.

Rosen closed the statement with a word of warning.

“Events of future Homecoming weekends must unfold much differently or they simply cannot be allowed to continue,” he said.

Rosen did not respond to the Journal’s request for an interview by press time.

Floyd Patterson, city councillor for Sydenham Ward, said that since Saturday, he’s been speaking with his constituents, many who have reacted with outrage.

“Some come down to demanding extreme measures ... and some even say bring in the army,” he said. “Can you imagine the type of mentality that suggests bringing in the army—an armed force—to control some university students?

“What this arises out of is being infuriated and being treated badly and getting very angry by this mistreatment you’re getting from the university students.”

Howard and Yuesim Lee, the only remaining permanent residents who live on Aberdeen Street, said they were both home Saturday night.

Howard Lee said what he witnessed that night was “terrible.”

“It really scared me,” he said, explaining that the car flipped by some of the partiers was set on fire in front of his house. “It [left me with] a really bad feeling.”

On Saturday night, Lee said people urinated in his backyard, destroyed his backyard fencing and part of his porch. People also jumped on the hood of his car, which was parked in the driveway beside his home, and ripped off two side mirrors, he said.

Lee said his family has lived in their home for more than 30 years and although other permanent residents who had lived on Aberdeen Street moved away in the last few years, his family wants to stay.

“My wife and I have lived here so long and we like our house,” he said, adding his wife, who doesn’t drive, is able to walk easily downtown from their location. “Before, it was not so bad [living on Aberdeen].”

Lee added that most of the time, he doesn’t mind living on Aberdeen Street.

“The neighbours are OK,” he said.

However, he had a suggestion about next year’s Homecoming.

“Maybe cancel it,” he said.

An Earl Street permanent resident, who asked to remain anonymous because she is afraid people might cause damage in retaliation, agreed.

“No more [of] this Homecoming,” she said. “I think that’s the solution, because last year [the University] said they wanted to stop [the Aberdeen party] but they didn’t stop it.

“I don’t want to be mean, but what you see is disgusting when [partiers] have too much [to drink].”

The resident said she watched people urinate and throw up in her backyard, flip over her picnic table and climb on the roof of her garage. People also caused damage to her back porch and fence.

Patterson said one Johnson Street resident he spoke to had the street sign pulled out of her front lawn and firecrackers set off in front of her home.

“This sort of behaviour instills fear in a person,” he said. “[They wonder] ‘Can I go to bed, or do I have to stay up all night watching my property?’”

He said he didn’t blame the University or the AMS for the events that took place.

“The University and student government did their best to come up with a plan that would stop this from happening or make it less likely, and it didn’t work,” he said, referring to a multi-act concert that was staged on campus the same night that was free for students.

Nonetheless, he said the University and the AMS had to resolve the situation. He agreed with Lee that the weekend should be cancelled.

“Homecoming should be given a hiatus for two or three years, and if that’s part of what it takes, that’s what will have to be done,” he said. “If that still doesn’t work, and there’s still students violating the laws and blocking the streets and committing vandalism and all those mean-spirited things ... then they’ll have to accept some really rough treatment from a big police force, an expanded police force.”

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