McGill-Toolen students claim police officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd of students after painting the Government Street cannon Friday night after their win over Murphy High School.
The decades-old tradition dictates that the winning team gets to paint the cannon in their school colors. Although the act is technically illegal, police and the city have allowed the fun tradition.
Students say they were out there just before 10pm when two officers pulled up with their lights on.
At first, students thought the police were there to close off the road for their protection, but instead, one student tells News 5, officers started spraying the crowd with pepper spray.
“People were throwing up, we had to get them some water, make sure they could see before they drove home. The cops were just trying to get us on our way but we didn’t want anyone to drive home with their vision impaired,” says McGill-Toolen senior Christopher McClintock.
A statement from George Talbot, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office reads:
All I can really confirm right now is that officers responded to 70-80 juveniles being disorderly impeding traffic at Government and Houston around the cannon. Pepper spray was deployed to disperse the crowd with at least two juveniles reporting they were affected by the spray. They were released to parents at the scene. There is an automatic internal investigation conducted anytime pepper spray is used and is currently underway to determine if the use was reasonably within guidelines. No arrests were made on the scene.
Assistant Police Chief Lawrence Battiste told News 5 he has yet to look over the police report and wants to know if there is any video of the incident before making any remark on the situation. He did say police are aware of the tradition and are on alert for it. One year, part of the road was sectioned off to allow students a safe zone while they painted the cannon.
News 5 will have more on this issue tonight at 6:00 pm and 10:00pm.