Rallies continue outside City Hall as activists from Defund the Police Hamilton Coalition are calling for the municipal government to take money from the police service and invest it into public housing for all who need it.
The demonstrations began after Hamilton City Council entertained a request from the Hamilton Police Service to raise their annual budget by $4 million.
— Sarah Jama #DefundThePolice (she/her) (@SarahJama_) November 25, 2020
It was pointed out in a statement released by the Defund the Police Hamilton Coalition that the Hamilton Police Service receives an annual budget of $171 million and a current annual surplus of $567,875, while the city online spends $25 million on housing and $151 million on social services.
“More money is invested into policing in Hamilton than in any other service in our city,” said Sahra Soudi, an organizer with Defund the Police Hamilton Coalition.
“Throughout Canada and in Hamilton, we invest more in policing than we do in essential public infrastructure like housing. It is necessary that we prioritize the lives of houseless people over the racist institution of policing.”
Soudi was charged by police under the Reopening Ontario Act on Monday. The statement released by HPS said that the demonstration exceeded the number permitted for an outdoor gathering. Although the demonstration encourages physical distancing, Soudi could receive a minimum fine of $10,000 and is scheduled to appear in court.
People on Twitter stepped in saying that an anti-masker protest in front of City Hall over the weekend gathered a similar number of people and the organizer was not fined. Twitter users also cited other notable large outdoor gatherings such as a car rally in Ancaster wherein charges were not laid.
As of Wednesday morning, Mayor Fred Eisenberger had yet to comment on the demonstrations.