‘Defund Police’ protestors given notices to remove tents; Hamilton Mayor calls demands irrational


Published November 26, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said Thursday that while he supports the right to protest outside City Hall, bylaws prohibiting camping in the forecourt will be enforced—as will the bylaw prohibiting more than 25 people from gathering while the city is in the Red ‘Control’ zone of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.

“The reality is, people are free to protest—as many people do—in the City Hall forecourt,” said Mayor Eisenberger during his virtual update. “But they are not allowed to put up tents and encampments and only 25 people are allowed to gather at one time while physically distancing.”

Bylaw officers will be handing out notices to the protestors, who have been gathered outside Hamilton City Hall since Monday. Many have rolled out sleeping bags and pitched tents, saying they will not leave until the Hamilton Police Service budget of $171-million is slashed by 50 per cent and the removed funds are allocated to free and affordable housing.

“We’ve done more than most municipalities when it comes to housing and poverty,” added Mayor Eisenberger, pointing to the nearly $50-million spent on poverty and housing over the last ten years. “Is it enough? Well, it’s never enough and we’re focused on doing more.”

Eisenberger added that the demand for a 50 per cent reduction of the police budget is “not a rational notion and it not supported in the broader community.”

“We are, however, having a conversation with major institutions and organizations in the city on the Safety and Wellness Plan that’s required by the Province,” he continued. “The police are participating in that, as well, and if a realignment of resources that helps improve outcomes for individuals in our community starts to happen, then the police won’t be a barrier to that.”

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