‘Out of hand’ Ottawa street party after football match condemned by officials, police

Thousands of people descended on Ottawa’s Sandy Hill area after the annual Panda Game football game on Saturday, when partygoers turned a vehicle on Russell Avenue.

According to Ottawa police, most of the afternoon after the match between the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton Ravens — an fall football tradition — was considered under control. But the situation quickly disappeared in the evening.

The police had a large presence ready most of the day. However, when officers and members of the force’s emergency service were reinstated after 20.00 ET, following reports of large crowds gathered, the avenue was crossed.

“When we showed up, there was a vehicle that was overturned and damaged right on the streets,” Ottawa police’s central department told CBC News Sunday morning.

No one was arrested and the crowd began to disperse when officers arrived, police said.

A vehicle was flipped by partygoers after Saturday’s Panda Game football game. When officers arrived, Russell Avenue had been crossed. (Steve Higham)

Nurses confirmed that seven people were taken to the hospital, but no major injuries were reported.

Steve Higham only moved to Russell Avenue a few weeks ago. Realizing that thousands of people were outside his home, Higham decided to stand guard outside to make sure his property was not damaged.

“I’m not against people having fun street parties,” he said. “But things clearly went out of hand, which was disappointing and does not bode well for the future of Panda Game parties.”

The Sandy Hill resident wishes the police had acted before, even though most of the party guests were polite and well behaved.

“You could hear the crowd amplifying into the noise, getting louder, and then looking up at the street, people had decided to turn a car around, and at that point it felt like, ‘OK, things are clearly going out of hand.'”

Ottawa tomorrow10:36Sandy Hill resides on Panda Game aftermath

Thousands of people descended on Ottawa’s Sandy Hill area after the annual Panda Game football game on Saturday, when partygoers turned a vehicle on Russell Avenue. A resident of that street says he is frustrated with how the police handled the situation. 10:36

‘Is this really worth the Panda game?’

Coun. Mathieu Fleury, who represents the Rideau-Vanier department, called the aftermath of the game “disappointing.”

“Now you have people like me – who are elected by the people [and] I’m a fan of sports – say, ‘Is this really worth the Panda game?’ “

Coun. Mathieu Fleury said he was ‘disappointed’ after Saturday night’s party on Russell Avenue. (Radio Canada)

While the football match between the rival teams has a long history of student parties, the councilor said he has never seen problems of this magnitude after a match.

“If we can not be a mature city where young people can have fun but have fun respectfully in a licensed environment, it will have to have consequences,” he told Radio-Canada in English.

On Sunday, Mayor Jim Watson tweeted that he was talking to the Ottawa Police Service, which is now conducting investigations to make sure those attendees are held accountable. He called the behavior “idiotic” and “immature.”

Ottawa police are investigating the case and reviewing social media, videos and other information to identify those involved, according to a press release issued by the force Sunday afternoon.

“In some cases, the crowds became very disturbing,” the statement said. It said a car was overturned and a person was assaulted in an incident.

“This behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Police will file criminal charges or pending charges under the reopening of the Ontario Act, the Liquor License Act and city bylaws if evidence allows it, the statement said.

Ottawa police are expected to work with staff from both universities where appropriate.

In a statement, University of Ottawa President and Vice Chancellor Jacques Frémont said students’ actions were “shameful and unacceptable.”

“If you were part of the crowds responsible for the damage and disrespect last night, then you need to do better,” he wrote.

Frémont also said he lamented any fears and anxieties caused by Sandy Hill residents.

“Sandy Hill is our home, and you – its residents – are our valued neighbors,” he said. “The actions of those who have disrespect for our society are deeply troubling to us, just as they are to our society as a whole.”

The Gee-Gees defeated the Carleton Ravens on Saturday afternoon 19-17.

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