Three Toronto teens charged with assault in connection with 'Friday Night' fights
Students at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate say mob beatings are filmed and shared on social media for likes and attention.
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Three Toronto teens are charged with assault causing bodily harm in connection with a series of beatings that saw youth allegedly film the incidents and upload them to social media.
The attacks are part of a trend that students at Scarborough’s Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate call Friday Night Fights. Students say groups of youth target other students or even strangers, picking fights or beating them up while onlookers film the fights with their smart phones.
“It’s an ongoing investigation, and there possibly will be more arrests,” Toronto Police Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook confirmed on Wednesday.
Videos of the fights are uploaded to social media channels like Snapchat and Instagram to gain likes, followers and attention, students say.
The incidents were first reported to police Friday, after one student was attacked and beaten by a group of six, while others filmed it.
Douglas-Cook said police are investigating the existence of the videos, though they have not seen yet seen any.
Anyone who filmed and uploaded the fights could be considered a party to the attacks and face the same assault charges as the aggressors, Douglas-Cook said.
Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird said in a statement that the school and the board are aware of “a number of recent fights involving students from Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate, most of them happening off school property and in some cases after school hours.”
“Toronto Police are now investigating and we’re working closely with them to offer any assistance we can,” Bird said.
One fifteen-year-old Laurier student was on his way to a friend’s house for lunch Tuesday when he says about 20 kids from his high school surrounded him.
One youth that the student described as an acquaintance strutted forward, spitting taunts, then sucker punched him in the face, he says.
Ten others piled on, he says, hitting the student repeatedly in the head while he lay on the ground. Another ten or so kids filmed it on smart phones, he said, and he expects the video will make the rounds on Snap Chat within a few days.
The student said Tuesday’s attack was retribution for his role in stopping a different fight at the school on Monday.
Torstar News Service is not using any of the student’s names in order to protect their identities.
“I’m angry,” the student said. “I’m not sure what other emotion there is to describe it.”
Local residents say they have seen evidence of the fights.
John and Sharon Sadler, who live near the school, said a mob of youth showed up Monday, blocking a street in their neighbourhood.
John estimates there were about 50 youth.
“It was scary,” Sharon said. “They were all chanting, stuff like ‘we’ll kill you.’ They just aggressively kept coming.”
“They all had their phones in their hands,” Sharon said. “I didn’t know what all that was about.”
Parents of the student beaten on Tuesday want the school to do more to stop the trend, and the fights.
“School’s supposed to be a safe space,” said the student’s mother, near tears. “But that’s where this started, and we didn’t even get a phone call.”
The student’s mother said the only message she got from the school after Tuesday’s attack was an automated voice message saying her child had been absent at second period.
Bird said Tuesday’s attack happened off school property and was reported to the school by Toronto Police.
“If any students have concerns about fighting or any other matter, we strongly encourage them to tell a staff member at the school, so they can immediately follow up,” Bird said.
Douglas-Cook said the phenomenon is not something the Toronto Police Service has dealt with before.
“This is not something that we’re familiar with,” Douglas-Cook said.
“It’s not something that we’ve seen frequently. It seems to be something that’s starting at that area, and we’re trying to nip it in the bud so that it doesn’t escalate to something more serious,” she said.
When the Star interviewed the victim of Tuesday’s attack and his parents that night, they had just arrived home from the hospital. The student’s mother said her child has a mild concussion.
“I feel like I look scary,” the student said, “like if a little kid saw me like this they’d run away from me.”