August 10, 2020

By KAREN HAYNES

The colour green is splashed across pubs, people and pints each St. Patrick’s Day. Yet, flaming red is all that will be remembered in London this year.

While the holiday was celebrated across Canada and the world, a pocket of participants, mostly students of Fanshawe College, shamed the shamrock as they uncontrollably rioted on Fleming Drive on March 17.

The incident, involving 1,000 highly intoxicated rioters, 65 police officers and 10 firefighters, resulted in approximately $100,000 of damage.

Brad Duncan, chief of London Police Services, and Howard Rundle, president of Fanshawe College, expressed their overwhelming disapproval after the incident.

“Our (police) engaged in a dynamic, dangerous, highly charged situation and ensured that injuries to the crowd were kept to a minimum … The severity of this mob mentality could have easily resulted in a death,” Duncan said at a press conference on March 18.

Rundle added on March 19, “Sadly, I must say the actions of some of our students not only endangered themselves, but they put our emergency responders and our community at great risk. This is unacceptable. It will not be tolerated. It will not be excused.”

This mob mentality, as Canadians have witnessed before, should be just that; unacceptable, intolerable and inexcusable for all. And still this crowd hysteria is part of our past, our present, and undoubtedly our future.

In June 2011 police worked to end a riot in Vancouver, B.C. that resulted in over 100 arrests. The upheaval occurred in the city’s downtown after the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins. Total damages surpassed $1 million.

These behaviours are incredibly selfish, self-destructive and create lasting consequences for the affected communities. These people’s actions are despicable and incomprehensible. Drunken fools riot and deserve to be held responsible for the destruction they leave behind.

While contributing factors on March 17 included incredibly warm temperatures, high levels of intoxication and the sheer fact that the holiday fell on a Saturday, it should be remembered that those facts were the same for the majority of cities across southern Ontario. 

Over 5,000 people gathered on Ezra Drive in Waterloo, also a highly student populated area. This crowd was five times larger than that of London’s and although approximately 100 tickets were issued – mostly for drinking beer or liquor in public – there was no out-of-control mob.

Those responsible in London have shamed their city, school and fellow Fanshawe students. But mostly they have hurt themselves. Any employer who learns of their behaviour will surely look for more suitable candidates.