Fauxcoming fallout

Police estimate the weekend cost around $375,000

Fauxcoming celebrations drew 1,500 to 2,500 people on Saturday night
Fauxcoming celebrations drew 1,500 to 2,500 people on Saturday night
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Michael Carclucci said he was at a friend’s house on Friday night when a police officer walked in.

“There was no loud music, no under-age drinking. We’re all third year or above,” he said. “There was no reason for the police to come in other than the fact that it was a student house.”

Prior to 2008, Carlucci’s get-together would have coincided with Homecoming weekend, but two years ago, former Principal Tom Williams cancelled Homecoming events held in September. This was an effort to suppress the Aberdeen Street party which has always been unsanctioned by Queen’s. Despite its temporary cancellation, the street party continued, leading to an increased police presence during what would have been Homecoming weekend.

Carlucci, ArtSci ’12, said he was at the Johnson and Toronto St. house with 10 or so friends and no one had been outside the house for at least an hour before the police officer entered.

Carlucci said upon entry, the police officer proceeded to ask for his ID and student card, which he refused to hand over.

“I know my rights,” he said. “The officer pulled out a small little booklet full of Queen’s student numbers. Most people in the house gave over their IDs.

“I asked what right they had to demand our Queen’s IDs. He said ‘if you’re a dick to us, we’ll be a dick to you, so just cooperate ... the fines can get pretty hefty, up to $5,000.’ ”

Carlucci said he believes the police were trying to prevent students from attending the Aberdeen Street party the following night.

“The officers were just going down the street, looking for Queen’s students,” he said. “It was officers going door-to-door trying to intimidate Queen’s students.”

After the police officer left his house, Carlucci said he filed an online complaint to the Kingston Police department.

“As soon as the police left, I [also] e-mailed local councillors and mayoral candidates,” he said.

“[But] for every one person like me who says something, there are ten people who were intimidated into not saying something.” Police expected throngs of students and alumni to converge on the traditional Aberdeen Street party on Saturday night.

Kingston Police Chief Stephen Tanner said this year’s Fauxcoming celebration was successfully controlled by police.

“I believe that last year was a critical point in the history of this event when the decision was made … to keep Aberdeen Street open so that it would be open and accessible to any emergency vehicles,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

Early on Saturday night, police patrolled Aberdeen St. while the crowd slowly grew. Police cars, mounted units and officers on foot also increased their presence steadily. The party peaked in numbers at around 11:30 p.m. at which time police began to block off the street. By 1 a.m., the crowd on Aberdeen St. was almost gone, bringing an end to Fauxcoming 2010.

Tanner said the Aberdeen Street party saw a low turn-out compared to previous years but that police-monitoring of the event will continue in future years.

“Our numbers, we believe, are significantly down for people attending the event despite relatively good weather. We have estimates in the neighbourhood of 1,500 to 2,500 in the Aberdeen/University area on Saturday night,” he said. “That is still a substantial group of individuals, often fuelled by the large consumption of alcohol. [It] can still be dangerous and certainly is still not the best situation for the city or for the Queen’s living area.”

Police arrested an estimated 100 individuals over the course of Fauxcoming weekend, 35 on Friday and 65-70 on Saturday. Of the arrests, 45 were for liquor license arrests, 16 occurring on Friday and 29 on Saturday. There were 48 (13 on Friday and 35 on Saturday) additional individuals arrested for Breach of the Peace, a Criminal Code charge. In total there were 217 liquor license charges made, 98 on Friday and 119 on Saturday.

Tanner said although he doesn’t have estimates yet on how many Queen’s students were arrested on Saturday night, of 30 people arrested on Friday night, he believes less than half of them were from Queen’s.

“We had representation from Western, McGill, St. Lawrence College as well and a number of people from the Toronto area,” He said, adding that the number of arrests shows a marked decrease in arrests and fines.

“I think if we look at our overall provincial offense notices, which include the Liquor License act, they went from perhaps a higher number of 558 and 619 in 2007 and 2008 to 312 last year, which we felt was a substantial decrease,” he said. “And between 250 and 300 possibly this year ... we’re looking at some final tallying there.”

Kingston Police partnered with Ontario Provincial Police forces, the Toronto Police Service, including mounted units, Durham regional police and community police from Belleville, Brockville and Gananoque to ensure enough resources for Saturday night, Tanner said.

“I would definitely say a large part of the success when that crowd started to swell was a direct result of the Toronto Police mounted horse unit,” he said. “I would not say it’s a complete success because I would rather not have those crowds swell to 1,500 or 2,500 in the first place ... or rather us not need or require 200 or 250 additional police officers to police this event.”

A cost estimate for this year’s Fauxcoming could be around $375,000, Tanner said.

“Internally, our early indications are probably in the area of $75,000 of overtime for probably close to 150 people,” he said, adding that external costs could amount to up to $300,000. “A crowd of 1,500 or 2,500 versus a crowd of 8,000 is great but a crowd of 1,500 or 2,500 still costs the citizens of this city a great deal ... we need to work to lower those numbers even more.”

Despite the sizeable police presence on Aberdeen, Tanner said he has yet to catch wind of the Kingston Police receiving any complaints about their conduct. “I’d be surprised if there are none with that size of crowd and with 100 people being arrested over the weekend ... but it would be nice if there wasn’t.”

Over the course of the weekend, Kingston General Hospital (KGH) treated a total of 21 patients for alcohol-related illnesses or injuries. Karen Smith, lead public affairs specialist for KGH said alcohol-related illnesses and injuries are generally seen in the 17-25 age group.. Four patients were treated on Friday, two of which were sent to the Campus Observation Room (COR). On Saturday, there were 17 patients treated for alcohol-related illnesses or injuries, 7 of which were sent to the COR.

KGH had 172 patients register on Saturday. On a typical Saturday, around 130 patients are seen, Smith said.

This year there was an increase in alcohol-related illnesses or injuries seen over Fauxcoming weekend at KGH compared to last year when eight patients were seen.

Associate Vice-Principal and Dean of Student Affairs John Pierce said in terms of re-instating Homecoming, a decision will be made before January,

“We’ll have a decision late in the fall ... by the end of the calendar year,” he said.

Pierce said Queen’s was concerned about the possibility of a Fauxcoming party on Kingston Field on Saturday night. A Facebook group called ‘Queen’s Homecoming 2010’ had promoted a gathering at Kingston Field and almost 6,000 members had confirmed they were attending. In the end though, few people showed up.

“We were aware that students would be gathering on the field and so did allow the police to come on campus property to dissipate that gathering,” he said. “We were concerned on all fronts. We wanted to make sure that the community was not disrupted, that there was not an inappropriate gathering on any Queen’s property and so on. It wasn’t just Aberdeen that was affected ... groups moved up University Ave as well so we had to be concerned on all fronts.”

While concerned, Pierce said Queen’s will not be contributing to the bill for this year’s Fauxcoming costs.

“Policing and public safety is a matter for all ... it would be bad precedent to move in that direction,” he said. “There’s not a sanctioned event that’s taking place in this weekend that’s connected with Queen’s.”

AMS President Safiah Chowdhury said she’s discussing the possibility of re-instating Homecoming with Principal Daniel Woolf but the decision ultimately rests with him.

“At this moment in time, we’re just in a state of gathering all the information we can,” she said. “The [campaign] promise was to seek ways to bring Homecoming back and we have been in touch with the Principal .... The decision to bring Homecoming back will not lie in our hands.”

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