Nova Scotia

Arrests made after police respond to massive student street parties in Halifax

Unsanctioned student street parties on Saturday near Dalhousie University led to large crowds of intoxicated people, injuries and disturbances.

Police estimate that as many as 4,000 people took part in the gatherings

A large number of people gathered at the intersection of Jubilee Road and Preston Street in Halifax on Saturday night. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

One man was stabbed and others were injured during large, unsanctioned student gatherings near Dalhousie University on Saturday and early Sunday.

According to a police news release, "large crowds of intoxicated people" started to gather in an area bounded by Larch Street, Jennings Street, Preston Street and Jubilee Road.by 10 p.m. Saturday. Police estimate upwards of 4,000 people in the area.

People were setting off fireworks in the crowd, some directed toward residences, the release said.

A homeowner in the area described the scene as mayhem.

Reaction from resident

"The streets were just full of students," Caitlin Lees told CBC News. "People, people being taken away on stretchers, fireworks being set off, loads of cheering as people jumped out of trees and off balconies ... just threatening and unsafe."

Lees, a mother of two, said she doesn't believe all the people were Dalhousie students, but the behaviour was unacceptable.

"As in recent years, we had people urinating on our property, defecating along our property line," she said. 

"I saw somebody snorting coke. I have two young children, so that's really not OK for me. I certainly chased a number of students off of my property who were dressed in Dal gear."

There were also disturbances and fights in the crowd, according to the police release. 

The crowd grew as the evening progressed, according to the statement, and police were deployed from across the city.

The release said officers had to take injured people out of the area, including the man who was stabbed, when Emergency Health Services were unable to access injured people because of the crowds and safety hazards. 

A police news release said officers were kicked, punched, spat at and had objects thrown at then when they attempted to disperse the crowd. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

When police moved to disperse the crowd they were met with resistance. Officers were punched, kicked, spat on and had projectiles thrown at them, the release said. Some officers were treated for injuries. 

The release said a fire was started in the road using branches downed by post-tropical storm Fiona to prevent police dispersing the crowd.

Police extinguish fire

Officers had to extinguish the fire as Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency could not get to it because of safety concerns, the release said.

Police were eventually able to disperse the crowd, the release said. Arrests were made and summary offence tickets were issued. 

A student who lives in the area says Dalhousie University is doing nothing to prevent these issues.

"There's not really many alternatives to a big party," said Sam Cutcliffe, a fourth-year oceanography student at Dalhousie. 

Cutcliffe said he was camping while the party was happening, but understands why so many people showed up.

He said the university has strict rules around alcohol on campus that pushes students into residential area for parties.

"All they're doing is really exacerbating the issue by having a really firm foot and saying, 'Absolutely not on campus,' and then criticizing whenever people take it to the streets, and putting up their hands and saying, 'Well, there's nothing we really could have done.'"

University condemns actions of students

In a statement, Dalhousie University president Deep Saini condemned the actions of students.

"We share in the frustration of our community and partners regarding last night's reckless behaviour," it read. "This high-risk and destructive behaviour showed a complete disregard for laws promoting the safety and well-being of our surrounding neighbourhoods."

The news release from Halifax police said further information will be released when available.

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