Fleming Dr. Fracas: Fanshawe Students Riot

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Smashed glass in front of a house

Jon Purdy

THE BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS... AND VODKA BOTTLES. The situation got rapidly out of hand on Fleming Drive, near the Fanshawe area, when student parties ballooned in size yesterday.

A riot broke out on Fleming Drive near Fanshawe College early yesterday after several student parties spiraled out of control.

Constable Amy Phillipo of the London Police described a scene of chaos. “Initial estimates puts the crowd number at approximately 200 to 300 people. Beer bottles were thrown at the first officers to respond to the scene.”

The incident soon escalated, with numerous acts of property destruction in the vicinity of the police.

“People were damaging property in full view of the responding officers, including smashing windows and pulling apart fences.

“One man had to be restrained through the use of a taser,” Phillipo added.

Christopher Guerin, 21, and Joshua Bach, 19, both London residents, were charged as a result of the incident.

Eyewitness descriptions from Fleming Drive were varied. “I was in my house,” one anonymous Fanshawe student said. “Looking out the window I could see about eight cop cars and a paddy wagon.”

Kyle Schwartzentruber, a third-year Fanshawe student who lives on Fleming Drive said that police had set up roadblocks at the end of the street.

“They wouldn’t let me past since I didn’t have enough evidence that I lived there.”

Student leaders at Western have condemned the brawl.

“[The incident] is not an indication of student behaviour,” said David Simmons, VP-External Affairs of Western. “These were drunks who made a decision to start a riot, and they would have done this if they were Fanshawe students, Toronto students, Queens students or Western students.

Fanshawe’s student President Travis Mazereeuw promised swift action against students who would continue such behaviour, adding that Fanshawe College Student Union’s message is one of “positive reinforcement” and “education with safety.”

Jack Goodwin, a resident of Fleming Drive since the suburb opened up 10 years ago, was home when the incident happened. Though he claims to have not seen the entire incident, he mentioned that he had heard the cops and had “definitely” heard the party.

“It seems like this happens once a year,” he laments. Pointing his finger to the curve in the road in front of his house, Goodwin adds, “last year, [the students living in the area] set a chesterfield and a couple of chairs on fire there.”

Goodwin said that he’d seen an increased number of students in his area. “Over the last five years the students started moving in, and their numbers are growing every year.”

Goodwin’s neighbour, who declined to speak to the Gazette, had a window smashed and lattice-work from his fence thrown into a fire.

“What I really want is licensing for the landlords,” said Goodwin. “They operate [student residences on the street] like a business, and take no responsibility for it.”

Residents of the neighbourhood are reluctant to talk to the press. The majority of those interviewed claimed that they were not home, or if they were they did not see anything.

Those who live in 271 Fleming Drive, the alleged convergence point of the riot just want to forget the incident.

“It wasn’t our fault,” said one of the residents, who wished to remain anonymous. “There were about six different keggers and they all came together in our front yard.

“Everything just spiraled out of control.”

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