Criminal charges against six Hamilton housing advocates withdrawn


Published March 15, 2022 at 12:28 pm

Homeless encampments in flood-risk area a major safety concern in Brampton

Criminal charges against six Hamilton area housing advocates have officially been dropped as of Tuesday (March 15).

According to the Hamilton Encampment Support Network (HESN), all of the charges against the individuals who were arrested on November 24th and 26th 2021 at J.C. Beemer Park and in front of the Hamilton Central Police Station have been withdrawn.

The first three of the six arrests took place at the central Hamilton park when advocates showed up to support residents of the encampment that was being torn down following a fire at the site.

The further arrests were carried out several days later in front of Hamilton Police Service’s Central Station when fellow advocates gathered to protest the arrests days earlier. At the time, police and protestors clashed leading to more arrests.

In the weeks following, a robust social media and letter-writing campaign was launched in an effort to have the charges dropped against the advocates.

A GoFundMe campaign was also created to support the six defendants, which raised more than $40,000 to help with their legal bills.

“To the hundreds of people who donated to our legal defense, the thousands who wrote letters of support and made calls, the dozens of unions and organizations, the leaders and politicians from all levels of government, we say thank you for keeping up the fight,” HESN said in Tweet following Tuesday’s court decision.

While advocates say this latest outcome is most welcome, much work is still needed to address the issues many unhoused Hamiltonians face.

“While we feel that dropping the charges was the best outcome, and we couldn’t be happier with this win, it is disturbing to know that no plans for action or significant policy change have been taken by the City of Hamilton to stop with the evictions,” HESN said.

“HESN will continue to support encampment residents on the ground; the calls for a judicial inquiry into the events of JC Beemer and ensuing police violence remain in place.”

Some of the money raised in the GoFundMe campaign will be used towards encampment support costs in Hamilton and towards legal fees of fellow activists still facing similar charges in the GTA.

— with a file from Nathan Sager

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