Police officers kept students from reaching parts of Broughdale Avenue in London Saturday morning. Eventually, in the face of a huge crowd and students sneaking past through backyards, police opened the roadway.
LONDON, Ont. — Thousands of students swarmed Broughdale Avenue for Western University’s “fake homecoming” Saturday, overwhelming police efforts to keep the street open.
“They lost the street. I would say this is worse than last year,” Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire said, after touring the crowded streets. “The number of people is overwhelming. This is a big public safety issue. This is a recipe for disaster.”
With dozens of students taken to hospital and hundreds facing fines, the hangover from the third annual unofficial homecoming at Western University won’t ease for a long time, says the ward councillor for the area.
Students began pouring onto Broughdale in the morning, heading to front and backyard parties that attracted hundreds of people.
With dozens of students taken to hospital and hundreds facing fines, the hangover from the third annual unofficial homecoming at Western University wont ease for a long time, says the ward councillor for the area.
London police officers managed to keep students on the sidewalks and lawns, but as more crowds started to show up, police attempted to block Broughdale west of Audrey Avenue to keep it clear for emergency vehicles.
Students were told if they left the block they couldn’t get back in. More and more students began crowding on the other side of the barricades.
London’s acting fire chief Jack Burt tweeted late Saturday the department will lay from 250 to 300 charges under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act to tenants, landlords and property owners in the area.
Police eventually gave up trying to control the thousands of students pressing to get in, in many cases sneaking through side and backyards.
“There were many more people on the street than officers,” said Const. Sandasha Bough, who was at the scene all day. “There was a significant amount of people.”
All afternoon long, emergency crews battled traffic and crowds of people to get to students needing help — with several reported unconscious and intoxicated, at least one injured by falling or jumping off a roof, and a few more with scrapes from jumping over fences or falling.
The Middlesex London Paramedic Service had taken 26 people to hospital by 4 p.m., London police said.
Western University decided three years ago to move homecoming events to later in the fall, closer to student mid-term exams, in an effort to curb the huge gatherings on Broughdale.
In response, students created their own fake homecoming, known as FOCO, held earlier than the sanctioned homecoming.
"We want to remind people planning to attend events to please keep the roads clear. We have had incidents in past where the road was not clear and we were unable to get emergency vehicles through to assist people," says London police Cst. Sandasha Bough.
Police were not expecting to have final numbers on the number of students charged or given tickets until Monday, Bough said.
Thousands pack the street along Broughdale Avenue just past Audrey Avenue to celebrate Western University's fake homecoming.
Meanwhile, the Universitys Student Council is hosting Purple Fest, a six-hour event featuring acts, such as Lil Uzi Vert and Loud Luxury, as well as a licensed beer tent.
Just a little over midway through Saturday’s fake homecoming (FOCO) celebrations, London police say they’ve already closed roads, sent multiple people to hospital and laid a number of charges.
The news came by way of the London police Twitter account, as revellers enjoyed FOCO celebrations on the city streets near Western University’s main campus.
Police will be cracking down on underage drinking, public intoxication, drug use, public urination and partying on rooftops.
IMPORTANT SAFETY MESSAGE: We have closed roads, had multiple people transported to hospital, charges have been laid, and we are asking people to please remain OUT OF THE AREA of Broughdale Avenue for safety reasons. #dontinviteus2urparty #ldnont pic.twitter.com/mHlrIKFMiE
In 2016, Western University moved Homecoming to late October in an effort to tone down rowdy street parties.
“In the past, there were so many people on the street that emergency crews were not able to get access to the street and to those individuals who needed immediate assistance,” said Bough.
“We want the students to have fun, we just want to make sure that they’re doing so responsibly.”
Meanwhile, the University’s Student Council is hosting “Purple Fest,” a six-hour event featuring popular musical acts, such as Lil Uzi Vert and Loud Luxury, along with a licensed beer bar.
USC president Mitch Pratt told 980 CFPL that Purple Fest is geared toward keeping students entertained in a safe environment away from the city streets.
FOCO earned its name after Western’s real homecoming event was pushed to later in the year in an effort to reduce street partying.
In 2017, FOCO celebrations and unsanctioned street parties resulted in police laying over 60 charges and issuing nearly 1,000 warnings, while 37 people were taken to hospital as a result of the festivities.