This year’s all-night art showcase, Nuit Blanche was plagued by less than desirable weather, long lines, and your typical TTC woes, but that’s all to be expected. Since Nuit Blanche is known to attract people who just want to wander around the streets drinking all night, the Toronto Police were prepared for a little rowdiness too. But the crowd at Yonge-Dundas Square got a little more out of hand than anticipated.
Police received a number of calls within a one block radius of the square late Saturday night and called all the incidents “drug and alcohol fuelled” which is why they attempted to break up the large crowd gathered at Yonge and Dundas. But the crowd wasn’t interested in dispersing.
Three videos were posted to YouTube showing the police attempting to break up the party around 12:30am, and the crowd fighting back. Toronto police spokesperson Victor Kwong listed off the incidents that occurred in the square, including officers taking down a suspect with an imitation firearm, a woman getting trampled, a non-life-threatening stabbing, substance use, underage drinking, and multiple unconscious people.
Incidents nearby included multiple fights, one ending in someone being shoved onto the subway tracks, and another ending in a smashed restaurant window, and drunk people jumping on the roof of an empty police cruiser. According to Kwong, the police gave up on trying to get the crowd in the square to disperse because they were growing agitated and taking on a “mob mentality”. It was a “tactical decision for public safety and officer safety.” Sometimes police presence just makes everything worse.
Kwong explained that they can’t blame all the incidents on Nuit Blanche, but he could confirm that “alcohol and drugs were behind all these calls.”
Nuit Blanche’s main sponsor, Scotiabank, has announced that this year will be their last working with the art festival. The Toronto Star reports that their decision was made back in February, so the altercations at this year’s festival had nothing to do with it. Scotiabank simply said that Nuit Blanche no longer fits with their “sponsorship strategy”. Either way, next year’s festival has already been scheduled for October 1st.