Police deploy pepper spray, make arrest at Glowfair

A block party brawl now threatens the future of one of Ottawa's popular outdoor festivals.

There were tense moments at Glowfair on Bank Street. 

Police say a group of about 15 people were harassing others on the street during the block party when officers tried to break up the crowd.

At one point, police say an assault took place and officers intervened and used pepper spray after one person in the crowd reached for an officer’s baton. No one was stuck by the baton.  Police confirm one person was arrested; no word on whether charges have been laid.

“No question here that these kids were stampeding down the street,” said witness Alexandra Zennis, who said she saw the whole incident. “It was unruly, it was chaotic, it was hectic.”

Police were brought in to support security; festival organizer says more, however, could be needed to avoid another incident that this non-for-profit festival may not be able to bear. 

Funding cuts and police actions are now being questioned as Glowfair lights up a conversation around safety and security.

Zennis said she understands police needed to do something to restore order but questioned how it far it went.

“I didn’t see the need to have a baton and pepper spray,” said Zennis. “Did we need police intervention? Absolutely. No question. Did it need to go that far? Not in my opinion.”

Zennis said before the confrontation with police, at least seven different fights broke out.

“It was scary because no one knew what was going on. It was back and forth; people throwing punches. It just seemed unnecessary.”

Christine Leadman, head of the Bank Street BIA, said police were already there to support private security guards.

“Looking what we do in our program it should have been sufficient. But when you have these incursions you can’t predict where it is going to happen when it is going to happen,” said Leadman; adding more security may cost too much for the non-profit festival.

“What’s the liability for us? What's sustainable for us? As it is a free event so it’s not something we can recoup our costs,” said  Leadman.

Zennis said she hopes the show will return next year. 

“I definitely still feel safe here,” said Zennis.

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