All Hamilton protesters arrested defending unhoused people released, advocates say


Published November 26, 2021 at 7:11 pm

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

All of the individuals who were arrested Friday during a confrontations between Hamilton police and protestors who support unhoused people were released by early evening.

The Hamilton Encampment Support Network (HESN), an advocacy organization, wrote a tweet at 6:23 p.m. saying that four community members, including prominent disability rights and social justice activist, Sarah Jama were out of custody. The advocacy group has tried to prevent Hamilton Police Service officers and City of Hamilton workers from dismantling encampments on city property, saying unhoused people are not being given long-term housing solutions.

There was a clash in Beasley Park around midday on Friday. Another lasted throughout Wednesday at J.C. Beemer Park after a fire and explosion razed the living area.

Jama, 27, is accused of assaulting and obstructing a police officer. The charges are apparently in relation to the events in J.C. Beemer Park two days earlier.

The Hamilton Police Service said it had arrested a 20-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman, both from the city. Video that HESN shared to Twitter showed police taking a man into custody after a clash outside of the Central police station on King William Street.

All four people who were arrested are Black, the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI) said.

The HESN group called for supporters to gather outside of the station. By late afternoon, around 40 to 45 people lined the sidewalks on both sides of the street. Music played from speakers and a tent was set up.

With police officers standing in front of the doors, they chanted, “This is what community looks like” and “Black Lives Matter, they matter here.” Another chant went, “City and cops go hand in hand, no encampment ban on stolen land.”

The City of Hamilton has the right to enforce statutes against people living and sleeping rough in tents on city property. An attempted court injunction against enforcement of the bylaw failed earlier this month.

Opponents who support vulnerable people in Hamilton, such as the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, say the city’s decision to proceed with encampment evictions violates Hamilton’s Urban Indigenous Strategy.

Hamilton is situated upon the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas.

Later in the evening, the HCLC, Hamilton Centre member of Parliament Matthew Green and lawyers Wade Poziomka and Jennifer Zdriluk issued a statement about the arrests.

“Peaceful protest is a hallmark of a free and democratic society. It must not be criminalized,” it read in part.

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