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Mall worker describes commotion, chaos during gathering at Polo Park which resulted in 2 arrests

An employee at a business in CF Polo Park said she felt stressed out, confused and considered closing down the store she works at when a group gathered at the mall Friday as part of what police say was an open invitation put out on social media.

Denielle Peron, 21, was working Friday and first noticed some commotion around the food court around 4 p.m., but she said the crowd later grew in size.

“About 6, 6:30ish and that’s when it really blew up in proportion,” Peron said. 

“I do remember seeing a group of boys there. They had this stereo … they were running away but there was a huge crowd behind them.”

According to the Winnipeg Police Service, around 100 people showed up for a social media-inspired gathering. Officers arrived around 7:15 p.m. and the disturbance lasted 30 minutes before the group dispersed, a statement from police Saturday said.

Peron witnessed the gathering.

“I was actually working at my job when this all happened,” Peron said. “I was actually very confused at what was going on, initially.”

“I noticed a lot of the employees, including myself and my coworker, were actually very … they looked a little stressed, maybe. Maybe a bit annoyed or disgruntled.”

Winnipeg police arrested two young people who face charges of unlawful assembly and causing a disturbance. Both youths were released on undertakings after the arrests. They can’t be identified due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Drinks thrown into the air: witness

Peron said during the gathering, drinks were being thrown into the air in the food court.

“I do recall seeing a lot of the janitors trying to go towards the area to clean it up, to no avail though,” Peron said. 

Videos posted to social media show a large group gathered in the mall’s food court chanting and cheering. Videos posted online also show police arriving at the mall and arresting two people.

Officers say no weapons, assaults or injuries were reported.

Peron said someone at the mall stopped and showed her a social media account which she was told belonged to a famous TikTok user.

“I had no idea who this person was,” Peron said.

CBC made multiple requests to TikTok users who shared videos promoting the gathering on multiple social media accounts but hasn’t heard back.

Peron said she felt relieved when the commotion ended.

“They were actually really disrupting the workplace,” Peron said. “The amount of noise that they were creating and chaos was really stressful.”

“There was a lot of commotion. I do recall mall security was actually calling in more supports and shortly after that’s when the city police came in.”

Peron is glad the situation was resolved peacefully.

“My coworker and I were just heavily debating whether we should close the place early,” she said. “It was just really stressful all around.”

Police say there were no other arrests. CBC has reached out to CF Polo Park for comment but hasn’t yet heard back.

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