Hamilton Police Services Board apologizes for Pride 2019, agrees to look into budget reduction


Published June 12, 2020 at 3:52 pm

At Thursday’s (June 11) much-anticipated Hamilton Police Services Board meeting, the board issued a formal apology to Hamilton’s Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA+ community for their response to the violence that took place at last year’s Pride celebrations at Gage Park.

The apology comes after an independent review of the events leading up to, during and after Pride 2019 found that the police response was “inadequate,” and warranted an “unequivocal” apology from the Hamilton Police Service (HPS).

“The Board at this time sincerely and unreservedly apologizes to the Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA+ communities for the events connected to Pride 2019 as they transpired,” the formal apology says.

“We accept criticism and feedback and will listen and learn from the Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA+ communities in Hamilton.”

The Board’s formal apology letter goes on to ask HPS to report back on how they are addressing the 38 recommendations offered in the independent review, compiled by Toronto lawyer Scott Bergman.

HPS is asked to report back by September on their progress.

“The Board denounces all organizations, groups or individuals that promote hate, violence, intolerance, discrimination and hate speech against anyone in our community,” the letter says.

“We will continue to promote inclusion, diversity and full respect for all people in our community no matter who you love, no matter what faith you practice, no matter your skin colour or where you come from.”

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the Board voted unanimously to support a motion put forward by Ward 5 councillor Chad Collins to request a report on what a 20 per cent funding cut to the HPS budget would look like.

The motion was introduced in the wake of calls from Black Lives Matter activists to defund and disarm the HPS. There were also more than 40 letters from Hamiltonians on the meeting’s agenda calling for more police accountability and supporting the defending notions.

It was clear from Collins’ introduction to the motion, that the intention was to prove that a reduction in the police budget wasn’t feasible as opposed to supporting the call for reform.

“I think those people who are advocating for those reductions need to know what they’re asking for,” he said.

“It’s my opinion that providing less resources for the police prevents or prohibits them from doing their job properly, and ultimately leads to reduced public safety.”

Fellow board members echoed his voiced belief that abolishing the police was ‘nonsensical’.

Ward 6 councillor Tom Jackson said residents of his ward, which is primarily the East Mountain, are calling for more of a police presence in their neighbourhoods following “dozens” of break and enters.

Board member Pat Mandy said she was ready to vote against the motion until she heard the discussion about its purpose.

A 20 per cent reduction of the HPS $171-million budget amounts to more than $34 million.

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