Sociologist not surprised by pandemonium participants’ public swagger

Attention-seeking social media posts celebrating weekend-party mayhem helping police zero in on troublemakers

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EAST ST. PAUL — In the aftermath of a house party where RCMP officers were attacked and were able to prevent a sexual assault, young people shared videos of the chaos and bragged about being there.

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EAST ST. PAUL — In the aftermath of a house party where RCMP officers were attacked and were able to prevent a sexual assault, young people shared videos of the chaos and bragged about being there.

Viral social media posts raised questions, including why people would potentially incriminate themselves or, at the very least, open themselves up to backlash while many, including Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen, condemned the violence.

“The short answer is, it’s an extension of media performance that is a part of how many people, including young people, now act in their everyday lives,” Brandon University sociology Prof. Christopher Schneider said Thursday. “The whole purpose is to get likes and to get attention.

“It will arguably be a lot of negative attention, but some of it might even be positive.”

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Brandon University sociology Prof. Christopher Schneider said social media footage will complicate matters.

Schneider said riots in major cities, including Vancouver, have produced similar examples of people seeking attention or trying to gain status while claiming to have been present or taken part in the destruction of property.

Almost a week after Saturday night’s party in the RM of East St. Paul just inside the Perimeter Highway, the captions or comments still visible on social media posts range from “I was there” to “It’s me on the cop car.”

The pursuit of attention or likes could backfire with serious consequences for posters.

“It can be problematic if they were involved in criminal events,” said Schneider. “They might be subject to police investigation.”

RCMP officers have been scanning social media websites for video and other posts about the party attended by hundreds of young people two days before Halloween and shortly before new owners moved in.

Social media users have been reporting posts or comments to police, and officers have already identified dozens of people who were present at the home on Saddleridge Lane.

While being swarmed by dozens of intoxicated teens, officers were spat on, subjected to racial slurs and had fireworks launched at them, the RCMP said.

Footage showed people jumping on top of two police vehicles. The windshield of one cruiser was crushed, and the other car had major damage to the roof and hood.

Screengrab from a video circulating on social media of the party in East. St. Paul.

Officers intervened as two male teens dragged a female into a bush in an attempt to sexually assault her, RCMP reported.

She was taken to hospital with serious injuries. The suspects ran off.

The house, located in an upscale neighbourhood, was described as having sustained “significant” damage just days before new owners moved in.

After spending time on the market over the summer, a Winnipeg realtor’s website lists the 2,083-square-foot property as sold for $789,900.

The realtor and one of the new owners declined to comment Thursday. The previous owners, who were out of the province Saturday, are co-operating with investigators, police said.

The Free Press attempted to contact one of the previous owners, who recently started in a new job outside Manitoba, but didn’t receive a response. A relative living in East St. Paul didn’t want to answer questions.

A statutory offer-to-purchase form used in many home sales in Manitoba states the buyer may terminate his or her obligation to complete the purchase if a property suffers substantial damage that is not repaired by the closing date.

In a situation where a property is damaged before the new owner or owners take possession, the previous owner’s insurance would respond to fix any damage or handle any legal liability, said Susan Gilbert, president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba.

“Obviously, this is behaviour that is not acceptable in any community… Any form of destructive behaviour is not acceptable.”–Carla Devlin, East St. Paul Mayor

“The purchaser’s insurance wouldn’t respond to that,” she said. “Definitely, our insurance brokers would work really closely with the real estate broker and the lawyer to make sure the coverage changes over with the possession date.”

Damage caused by a house party is rare, said Gilbert, adding storm damage is a common scenario.

East St. Paul Mayor Carla Devlin, who was elected last week, said the municipality is supporting the police investigation.

“Obviously, this is behaviour that is not acceptable in any community,” she said. “Any form of destructive behaviour is not acceptable.

“If parents talk to their kids or if there is any information that can help the investigation, they can reach out to local authorities.”

The RM’s bylaw enforcement team assisted police on the night of the party. Winnipeg police officers were called in as backup.

Anyone who has information about the party or was a victim is asked to call Red River North RCMP at 204-482-1222 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

chris.kitching@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @chriskitching

Chris Kitching
Reporter

As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.

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