Students talk police presence over homecoming weekends

‘I was tackled and arrested’

Four students sat down with The Journal to discuss the police response to homecoming.
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 Oct. 16 and 23, thousands flooded the streets of the student district for unsanctioned Homecoming gatherings. Ontario Provincial Police, Greater Toronto Area, and Gananoque Police joined Kingston Police officersin surveilling the crowds.
Despite outcry from Queen’s students against over-policing in the University District, both Queen’s administration and Mayor Bryan Paterson supported the large police presence. 
The Journal sat down with four Queen’s students to discuss their interactions with police.
On Oct. 16, Smith* was on the street playing ball with some of his friends when six to eight police officers allegedly tackled him to the ground. 
“I guess the officers deemed that it was not okay for us to be [playing ball]. I was tackled and arrested, then I was brought to jail and spent eight hours in jail,” Smith said in an interview with The Journal.
Smith hit his head on the pavement as he was tackled by the officers. 
“Nothing was explained to me at all. I was in the dark the entire time,” Smith said. 
“Once I got to jail, I wasn’t told how long I was going to be there or what I was arrested for, which is frustrating because it wasn’t a clear situation. I didn’t do anything wrong.” 
Smith was told the next week at the hospital that he had a concussion.
Concussion symptoms can impact one’s ability to focus, recall, and process information—all things necessary for students to perform well in the midst of midterm season, Smith said. 
According to Smith, this all led to a $65 public intoxication ticket.
“Part of me wants to put it behind me but at the same time I think I was treated pretty unfairly,” Smith said. 
“I’m honestly still not entirely sure what I did to get that situation handled like that.” 
Another student, Joe*, was approached by Kingston Police on Oct. 16. He and a few friends were on the corner of William and Aberdeen St.
“We were approached by officers who told us we need to move out of the area, and we told them that we were just deciding whether we’re grabbing food or heading home,” Joe told The Journal in an interview.
According to Joe, one of the officers abruptly grabbed his arm, pinned it behind his back, and pushed him to the opposite direction. 
“I was told ‘don’t talk back, just move’. I don’t feel like I was saying anything in an aggressive or argumentative manner,” Joe said.
“At that point I was irritated and no longer wanted to go to grab food, so I started walking back towards [University Ave. and Victoria St.]. The officer started following me and grabbed me once again telling me ‘you need to go back the other way,’ to which I responded ‘my house is this way, it wouldn’t make sense for me to go back up Division.’”
When Joe asked for the officer’s badge number, she refused.
“I was just tired and frustrated,” Joe said. 
Joe explained that none of his friends or housemates had a similar encounter. He was the only person of colour in the group.
“I’m not someone who just pulls out the race card. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s part of the reality of life, but this is the first time that I feel it impacted me to this degree. It’s really disheartening to me,” Joe said. 
“It is a cliché ‘oh is this officer only talking to me because I’m a person of colour’. But at the same time, there’s very few explanations for why this police officer approached me so aggressively in a street of thousands of people.”
As the situation heightened, Joe asked what his rights were.
“[The officer] responded to me saying that if I said another word then she’ll give me a ticket.”
After Joe sought out clarification, the officer handed him off to her superior to receive a ticket. 
“She says to me, ‘it’s too late to apologize now’.”
The ticket Joe received was for nuisance partying, which came with a $2,000 fine. 
A similar experience happened to John*, Comm ’23, on Oct. 23, when the police charged him for crossing the street. 
“I was on Aberdeen for probably less than 30 seconds. I entered it through a backyard and saw a couple of my buddies across the street, so I went to cross with a group of five other guys,” John said in an interview with The Journal
“When the cop came up behind me, I initially thought she was going to go for the guy next to me because he was drinking from an open can of beer, but she grabbed me instead and walked me back to their car.” 
According to John, the police wrote him a $2,000 fine for attending a nuisance party, and he was told that if he were to return to the street he would be taken to jail. 
“I was just curious and asked them if I lived on Aberdeen, would I still be subject to the $2,000 fine? The cop who detained me said ‘We don’t give an f*** where you live.’” 
John was taken aback by their hostility. 
“I asked the female cop what she was picking me up for and she wouldn’t give me an answer,” he said. 
John said he’s submitted an appeal for the ticket for two reasons. He first referred to the City of Kingston’s twitter, where the nuisance party on Aberdeen was declared at 2:35 p.m. 
“The time written on my ticket is 2:35 p.m. There was a couple of minutes of time between when the first cop grabbed me and when the ticket was written. She either grabbed me on the dot or what I think before 2:34 p.m.—so before it was illegal to be there.”
According to John, the incident was caught on a video he plans to use in the appeal process. 
“In it you can see that the officer ignored many other people on the street and came straight towards me, while you can see three or four other cops on the street not addressing any of the other people crossing the street.” 
“I was given no warning. No one told me that I couldn’t be there, she just immediately grabbed me,” John said.
Jane* ArtSci ’23 and Aberdeen resident, was approached by officers on her way home on Oct. 23. Jane was taking an intoxicated friend home where a line of police officers was blocking entrance to Aberdeen.
“When I went up to the officer and told [them] that I lived there, he refused to let us through because the gathering on Aberdeen had been declared a nuisance party,” Jane told The Journal in an interview. 
“I told him that I had medication I needed to take at a certain time and therefore had to return home. The officer seemed stumped but still made the decision to question me about what medication it was.”
Jane said she found this “inappropriate.” When she clarified the medication was birth control, the officer didn’t let her through because the medication wasn’t needed for “life-threatening” reasons.
“As a police officer, I felt like this was a stretch of his expertise. People take different medications for various reasons,” Jane said.
“It was a shock to me, not only because it had become illegal for me to go home, but also because it seemed like an officer was shoddily handling a situation.”
The Journal reached out to Kingston Police for a statement but did not receive a response in time for publication.
*Names changed for anonymity due to safety reasons.

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