Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Keep Calm and Party On: London Wants Respectful St. Paddy's One Year after Riot

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Keep Calm and Party On: London Wants Respectful St. Paddy's One Year after Riot

Article excerpt

London learns lessons from St. Paddy's riot

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LONDON, Ont. - As one of the busiest party weekends of the year approaches, the city of London, Ont., is doing all it can to avoid a repeat of a drunken St. Patrick's Day riot that left a residential neighbourhood looking like a war zone.

A mob of some 1,000 revellers hurled objects at officials and fuelled a massive street fire with furniture, fences and alcohol last year. Dozens were arrested and more 170 charges were laid.

This year, the city is determined things will be different.

"There should be no doubt in anyone's minds that in terms of the City of London, if you allow a party to get out of hand, it will be clear, clear, that the London Police Service will be in attendance," Police Chief Brad Duncan told The Canadian Press.

"We want Sunday to go nowhere near to the levels we experienced last year at this same time."

Authorities have spent the last two months laying out response plans for this year's festivities and will be out in full force over the weekend.

"It's the single largest deployment of individual officers on a day in most recent memory," said Duncan.

The melee last year -- during which 22 police cars were damaged and a news vehicle was torched -- prompted the city council to update a nuisance bylaw to boost the ability of police to deal with rowdy gatherings.

The bylaw gives officers the power to break up parties on private property with permission from the police chief or senior officer on duty.

Police have also been monitoring social media for tips on planned gatherings and have already reached out to a few individuals to warn them about the zero tolerance attitude that will be in play for any event that gets out of hand.

"That's been an important outcome for us, recognizing the impact social media can have in generating these kinds of activities," Duncan said of lessons the force has learned from last year's riot. …

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