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Police board to vote next month on reviewing Pride conduct

After a violent altercation at the Pride Festival back in June, Hamilton police services board will vote in October whether to investigate police conduct at the event.

The board has been examining options since July. Board member Don MacVicar says that a three-member committee will convene on October 10th to decide on what an independent external review should look like. The board members will include MacVicar, former colonel Geordie Elms and retired sign company president Fred Bennik.

The investigation could cost around $2 million with the committee looking at costs and options including hiring a retired judge to do the review.

Since the Pride violence in June, the relationship between the police service and LGBTQIA+ community has been on shaky ground.

At the Pride Festival on June 15th, members of a far-right group called the Servanthoods crashed the festival at Gage Park bearing homophobic signs and loudspeakers. A counter group wearing pink masks tried to block the view by putting up a giant black curtain. The clash turned violent as several people were assaulted. The Pride Hamilton organizers criticized the police for not stepping in. Later, Chief Eric Girt said the police would have acted differently if they were invited to the event.

Then within days following the violence, Hamilton police arrested three pro-Pride protesters and one transgender resident who wasn’t at the festival, while only arresting one member of the Servanthoods.

The shaky relationship had some further tremors this week as Chief Eric Girt made inappropriate comments about the LGBTQIA+ community on a 900 CHML radio show. Girt had to publicly apologize on Thursday.

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