Halifax police deal with rowdy street gathering near Dalhousie University

HALIFAX — A massive weekend street party involving thousands of people near Dalhousie University saw Halifax police make several arrests as they attempted crowd control.

In a statement issued Sunday, Halifax Regional Police estimated a crowd of between 3,000 to 4,000 gathered around 10 p.m. the night before in the areas around Larch, Preston and Jennings Streets as part of an unsanctioned event related to the Halifax school’s homecoming celebration.

Police said fireworks were set off in the crowd and a number of disturbances and fights occurred among many people who were intoxicated.

Police said they had to bring a number of injured people out of the area including a man who had been stabbed, adding it was impossible for paramedics to get to those injured.

“Along with being hit with projectiles, officers were punched, kicked and spit on,” the statement said. “Some officers required treatment for non-life threatening injuries.”

The crowd was dispersed after a “couple of hours” and although police released no details about the number of arrests, they say dozens of summary offence tickets were issued.

A similar disturbance at the same event last year saw police arrest nine men and one woman for public intoxication and drew outrage from the university and local community.

Dalhousie University president Deep Saini also issued a statement Sunday saying the school shared in the “frustration of our community partners regarding last night’s reckless behaviour.”

“We were very clear in all (earlier) communications to our students that organizing and attending an unsanctioned and illegal street party is unacceptable,” Saini said. “This high-risk and destructive behaviour showed a complete disregard for laws promoting the safety and well-being of our surrounding neighbourhoods.”

The university intends to investigate in order to determine “appropriate consequences” for those who were involved or who helped to organize what Saini described as “dangerous parties," he added.

Saini’s statement also reached out to the residential neighbourhood where the events took place and pledged to continue the consultation process that resulted from last year’s event.

“While this is a complex issue that will not be solved overnight, we will continue to address the urgency of the situation while we ensure this longer-term work is strong and supported,” he said.

Police said Saturday’s disturbance required them to call in extra backup as the size of the gathering increased. Officers who tried to break up the crowd were met with resistance, the force said.

The police force said at one point a fire was set using branches brought down by post-tropical storm Fiona in an attempt to prevent officers from breaking up the crowd.

Aparna Mohan, president of the Dalhousie Student Union, issued a series of tweets expressing disappointment in what happened, including the response by police, which some students had told her involved the use of pepper spray.

“I do not for a second condone the disruption and disrespect I witnessed from many partygoers, but I cannot condone violence as a reasonable, proportionate response,” said Mohan. “We can and must do better.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2022.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press