State Street party ends in arrest

Graphic by Lena Yang

Graphic by Lena Yang

On Saturday night, upwards of 1,000 people gathered around State Street and Fir Street as Homecoming celebrations trickled into the evening.

Though the majority of the party was peaceful, it resulted in one arrest of a Wilfrid Laurier University student after he threw a beer can at a police officer.

A 19-year-old local resident, who preferred not to disclose his name, was in attendance at the party and said it was much larger than anyone expected.

“By the time we got there [at 8:30 p.m.], there was roughly 2-300 people there … by the time 10:00 hit there was no beer left in the kegs.”

He said though the crowd was large, the party was relatively under control.

“There wasn’t any fighting, surprisingly,” he said. “You know there’s often a big fight that happens at a party and that kind of ruins the party — there wasn’t really anything … everyone was having a really great time.”

Inspector Daryl Goetz of the Waterloo Regional Police Service was in charge of patrol on the day of Homecoming, and said they received a by-law complaint from a citizen and responded by sending several officers to the State St. area.

The resident who attended the party said he noticed a police officer approaching the crowd when a group of males shouted, “Fuck the police,” which he said started the chaos.

“We looked over and all we saw was lights everywhere … a bunch of guys just started yelling, ‘Everybody get out.’ We didn’t actually realize until we got out from behind the house and hit the front of the driveway, when you looked down State St. there was only people. You couldn’t see any of the street … there was just people everywhere,” the resident said.

Once he got out from around the house, that’s when people began throwing bottles and cans at the officers.

“I remember just looking behind me … I just looked in the air and saw — it wasn’t a beer bottle, it was bigger than that, it was definitely a vodka bottle — I saw the cop walking and it was just flying through the air and then right in front of the cop’s feet.”

The resident said people began screaming and he and his friend left to avoid getting in the middle of it. As they were leaving, he turned and saw more bottles in the air.

“We brought more officers in because as we came in, that’s when the beer bottles started to fly towards our officers and obviously we were concerned about the safety of students and our officers and anyone else in the general public that resides there,” Goetz said.

One male, a 19-year-old male from Guelph, was arrested and charged with assaulting police with a weapon. He was released from police custody shortly after his arrest.

“The one student was very evident in throwing — it was a can actually that was thrown at the officers — we grabbed him and got him out of there and chose to try and disperse the students diplomatically,” Goetz said.

Goetz said they “certainly could have arrested more” party attendees throwing cans and bottles, however they did not want to make the situation worse.

“Grabbing students without all of our resources in place could have escalated it and made it worse. So we took a soft approach to getting in with the students to try and disperse the students and de-escalate,” he said.

“It’s a tough decision as to how you respond to those of things, you can certainly incite to make it worse — basically you can incite a riot — that’s what we were concerned about.”

In 2012, a riot broke out in London near Fanshawe College during St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Many emergency personnel, especially police officers, were subjected to violence at the hands of students. They had liquor bottles thrown at them, among other objects.

However, the fate of the State St. party was much different than the London riots.

Though several police vehicles were damaged, students did not react to the arrest with further violence. According to the resident who attended the party, most people simply walked away from the area once objects started being thrown.

He also added that for the majority of last week, people had been talking about the party.

Friends of his heard people discussing it in class and it had apparently become common knowledge by Saturday.

Several students came forward and said several of Laurier’s football players live in one of the houses involved in the massive party. However, head coach Michael Faulds did not confirm their involvement.

“I haven’t heard anyone confirm that it was at football players’ houses. Obviously we tell our players constantly to be aware that you’re in the public eye and everyone looks up to you as student-athletes here at Laurier,” he said.

Faulds said that in the event that football players do live at the house, there may be repercussions.

“I don’t rule by if, ands or buts, I only rule based on facts,” he said. “Homecoming there are always lots of parties going on and we always have trust and faith in our players that they were making smart decisions, and that’s not always the case, but based on facts then I’ll decide if there’s something that needs to be dealt with,” he said.

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