$20K in under 24 hours: Fundraiser for arrested Hamilton encampment protestors nears goal


Published November 30, 2021 at 12:28 pm

Protestors and Hamilton Police Service officers clash at the Central police station on Friday. (Twitter/Hamilton Encampment Support Network)

The GoFundMe started on behalf of protestors who were arrested at an encampment site and later in front of the central Hamilton police station surpassed $20,000 in less than 24 hours.

Organizers of the fund say donations are earmarked for the legal fees of the six who were arrested last week.

The goal was set at $30,000 and donations range from $10 to $1,000.

“On November 24th and 26th, Hamilton Police Services (HPS) violently arrested six community members supporting encampment residents at J.C. Beemer and Beasley Parks,” reads the GoFundMe description. “Of these six youth activists, five are Black. We are raising money to help cover the prohibitive legal costs incurred as a result of this injustice. The police are targeting these youth to disrupt the demand for housing in Hamilton.”

On Nov. 24, a 33-year-old male was charged with obstructing police and a 27-year-old female for assaulting police.

On Nov. 25, more arrests were made: a 27-year-old female and 20-year-old male were charged with obstruct and assault police, while a 24-year-old female was charged with obstruct police.

It all began on the 24th, shortly before 6 a.m., when encampment residents at JC Beemer Park were awoken by a fire that led to multiple explosions.

The Hamilton Police Service (HPS) said first responders found several tents fully engulfed in flames “spanning 15 to 20 feet in the air.” Multiple occupants were pulled from their tents before the fire spread, according to police.

“There were several explosions from items such as propane tanks and electrical generators, which was further fuelled by debris in the surrounding area,” said HPS. “The fire destroyed several tents but thankfully no physical injuries were reported.”

A hydro line was also damaged in the fire.

There has been no indication from emergency crews as to how it all started.

Police say “the majority of those affected have been relocated and six individuals have been provided with shelter.”

The advocacy group, Hamilton Encampment Support Network (HESN), called the shelter “inadequate.”

“Residents were not offered permanent housing solutions, and the options that were offered were more than inadequate,” said HESN in a media release. “The shelter-hotels offered were locations where some residents have restrictions or have experienced past violence, and the crisis center ‘beds’ are an interim stay of five days.”

Dozens of activists gathered at J.C. Beemer Park after the fire to protest the removal of the encampment, which police deemed “unsafe.”

What followed was a clash between law enforcement and protestors that was filmed and posted to social media. It has since been removed.

In the video, posted by HESN, a protestor can be seen charging toward an officer before another individual is dragged by police.

Protestors gathered outside of the central police station two days later, demanding the release of those arrested. Again, the two sides clashed, leading to more arrests.

Advocates say five of the six arrested were released on the condition that they will not return to any public parks or encampments.

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