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Canada’s Biggest All-Night Art Show Included Man-on-Cop Violence

An officer was bit on the hand and multiple people were seriously injured. What more could you ask out of an art festival?
October 6, 2015, 4:18pm

Screenshot via YouTube

Not long after a series of stabbings, fights, and alcohol-fuelled mischief at Toronto's biggest art festival eventually culminated in a confrontation with the police, Nuit Blanche's long-time sponsor announced that they were pulling their support from future iterations of the all-night event.

Yesterday, Scotiabank announced that they would not be sponsoring the night-long event anymore, over concerns that the event "no longer aligns" with their interests, according to Scotiabank spokesperson Andrew Chornenky.

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Chornenky informed VICE that they came to the decision 18 months prior and could not comment on whether the event's increasingly rowdy nature had to do with the change.

"In 2015, we completed a review of our sponsorship priorities and decided that Nuit Blanche no longer aligns with our sponsorship strategy. We informed event organizers in February that we would not renew our sponsorship of this property after the 2015 event, providing event organizers with more than 18 months of notice."

Chornenky also added that Scotiabank will be facilitating the transition to a new sponsor for the event.

Known locally for its St. Patrick's Day-like ability to bring out the worst in rookie drinkers, the tenth anniversary celebrations for Nuit Blanche lived up to previous years—with a lot of drunk people wandering the streets and abusing the all-night subway service instead of paying attention to the actual art.

According to Const. Jenniferjit Sidhu, the Toronto police experienced a blitz of violent crime that began shortly before 11 PM, when a stabbing at Yonge-Dundas Square saw a 29-year-old man rushed to the hospital after trying to prevent a mugging.

The perpetrator, who has had no details released about them thus far, was able to escape with a woman's purse.

Almost immediately afterwards, in an area nearby the square, the police received a call about a firearm (although it turned out to be nothing more than a replica), which prompted someone in the crowd to yell "gun." The resulting chaos saw one person injured after being trampled by people fleeing the scene.

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Just south of that incident, police were called to the TTC's Queen Station due to reports of vandalism and property damage being done inside the station itself. Similarly, at Dundas Station, a fight spilled over onto the actual subway tracks when a person pushed somebody off the edge of the platform.

Sidhu said that the police also responded to numerous calls of miscellaneous shenanigans, including multiple calls for people who had gone unconscious from drinking too much/doing too many drugs, as well as a group of teenagers partying on top of a police cruiser outside of St. Michael's Hospital. There was also a slashing which occurred in the same area, although police are unsure if it was related to the incident at Yonge-Dundas Square.

As shown in a series of videos on YouTube, Saturday night peaked when a crowd filled with possibly-intoxicated teenagers began to toss glass bottles and yell profanities at police dealing with the scene at the square.

"The police just wanted to disperse the crowd from the square and that's when the crowd got really angry," Shota Abaishvili, the one who took the video, told VICE." There were about 200 of them and they started throwing bottles and shouting at the police."

By the end of the night, three officers were injured, one of whom was bit on the hand (possible case of the munchies?), while another sustained an injury to the head.

Toronto Police's Const. Victor Kwong told VICE that it's extremely hard to narrow down whether this year's Nuit Blanche was worse than previous years.

He also added that the reasoning behind the outburst against the police is unknown. "There is no way to attribute this directly to Nuit Blanche," Kwong said, adding that a mix of drugs and booze were the only constant factor. "Let's be honest, some of these kids didn't come down for the art."

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