Two teens charged in separate incidents involving police at Glowfair
Published Monday, June 17, 2019 4:31PM EDT Last Updated Monday, June 17, 2019 4:42PM EDT
Two Ottawa teenagers have been charged after separate incidents over the weekend at the Glowfair Festival on Bank Street.
A 17-year-old male was charged with disarming a police officer Friday evening; then Saturday, a 13-year-old female was arrested for assaulting a police officer.
Police discharged pepper spray in both cases to disperse the crowd of kids. Some are questioning how police handled themselves; others are wondering who is hijacking our city festivals.
Amid the dazzling lights that is Glowfair, the acrobatics and the tranquility of glow yoga, there is this: video shot by bystanders show Ottawa police and private security wrestling a young man to the ground as hundreds of other young people watch, agitated and angry.
One of the shouts to a police officer, “Why are you pushing me?” As the officer responds, “Stay there.”
The confrontation heats up and a police officer pulls out his pepper spray after they say a 17-year-old tried to grab the officer's baton. The teen has been charged.
Alexandra Zannis was at Glowfair Friday night.
“Was that necessary? In my opinion, absolutely not,” she says, “There is no question these kids were stampeding, it was unruly, chaotic,” she says, “I was nervous. My issue and what I think was unnecessary was the use of force and a weapon.”
Ottawa Police say this was one of two incidents over the weekend, prompting them to use pepper spray. The other happened Saturday night.
“In one situation, an officer was kicked in the stomach by a 13-year-old,” says Acting Deputy Chief Joan McKenna, “so the officer has to take steps to protect himself and the crowd there participating in the event.”
There is a growing concern among some that these random fights may not so random.
“They all seemed to be on their phones,” says another woman who attended Glowfair, “so I don't know if they were organizing something.”
There were similar thoughts last year after a mob of young people crashed the Canada Day party in Barrhaven, tossing fireworks into the crowd and two years ago at Bluesfest when hundreds of kids smashed through the fence.
“It is a little frightening,” says Christine Leadman. She is the head of the Downtown Bank BIA, is the organizer of Glowfair, which pays for all the security. She says we can't turn our city into a police state.
“It's very frustrating,” says Leadman, “because it really puts a black eye on the festival when it's nothing to do with the festival programming; it's got to do with the decisions made by reckless kids.”
Leadman says they will have a debrief with city and police over this and then decide how they move forward or whether it's even feasible to do that.