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City removes tents from outside Hamilton City Hall amid Defund the Police protests

On Monday morning, the city made moves to enforce the removal of tents, structures, and other equipment from outside Hamilton City Hall amid the ongoing protests for the Defund the Police movement.

Groups of activists and protestors from the Defund the Police Coalition have been stationed out the front of City Hall for days, demanding that the city reallocate funds from the Hamilton Police Service into the creation of public housing and other social initiatives.

The protest began when the Hamilton Police Service requested a $4 million increase to their annual budget, despite ending 2020 in a surplus of more than $500,000.

But today, city bylaw officers were on site at the demonstration to enforce the removal of all tents and equipment, as well as issue trespass orders to the protestors.

“Over the weekend, the Mayor and City Manager offered to meet the organizers of the demonstration in City Hall to discuss their issues and concerns, which was not accepted. Demonstrators were also provided with information on how they could present their concerns to City Council through the City’s delegation process,” said the city in a statement.

“The City remains supportive of people’s right to demonstrate in front of City Hall, provided they adhere to COVID-19 restrictions and adhere to municipal by-laws.”

The move to dismantle the tents and other belongings – many of which are being thrown into the garbage by city officials –  has drawn some passionate response from prominent city residents.

“Day 8 and police, City of Hamilton, security, and bylaw folks are out tearing down another encampment in the freezing cold rain. Compassion? Zero. Mayor Fred Eisenberger? A no show. Shameful,” said Hamilton resident and LGBTQ chair Cameron Kroetsch in a tweet.

“This did not need to go this way. Leadership means more than the opposition of authority,” tweeted Ameil J. Joseph, a professor at McMaster University. “The city could have met publicly with the protesters to discuss any possibilities for improving funding for housing. You do not have to agree with protest tactics to recognize this as awful.”

Defund HPS, Hamilton’s Defund the Police organization, is requesting the donation of tents, sleeping bags, blankets, tarps, umbrella, sweaters, and other clothing for people to take with them. Items can be dropped off at New Vision United Church.

Read more about Defund HPS on their website.

Lead image courtesy of @DefundHPS

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