Hamilton police say Locke Street vandalism appears to have been well-planned

Click to play video: 'Hamilton residents show support for vandalized Locke Street businesses'
Hamilton residents show support for vandalized Locke Street businesses
WATCH ABOVE: Hamilton police are appealing to the public for any video and information that could lead to the identification of black-clad rioters who marched down Locke Street on Saturday. Mark Carcasole reports – Mar 5, 2018

Hamilton police are continuing to investigate after a mob of vandals caused up to $100,000 worth of damage on Locke Street on Saturday night.

Police were called to the area at about 10 p.m., where about 30 people were reportedly marching all in black with their faces covered and carrying a banner that read, “We Are The Ungovernable.”

The group, which had originally convened in Durand Park, set off fireworks, damaged vehicles and smashed storefronts with rocks, police said. No one was injured.

Insp. Paul Hamilton with Hamilton police said on Monday that the suspects had strategically parked nearby and were seen getting into cars a few blocks over.

“This was well-planned. This wasn’t a spontaneous event,” he told The Scott Thompson Show on 900 CHML on Monday.

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LISTEN: Insp. Paul Hamilton on what happened on Locke Street

A number of those involved had also worn different clothes under their black outfits in order to evade arrest, he said.

“What they’ll do is run up somebody’s driveway, peel their stuff off … and blend in with the crowd. We’ve recovered at a number of people’s homes piles of clothing,” he said.

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Hamilton said police have received lots of tips from the public and are hopeful they will make some arrests. They are appealing to the public for additional information and video.

WATCH: These were criminals’: Hamilton police provide update on vandalism on Locke Street businesses

Click to play video: '‘These were criminals’: Hamilton police provide update on vandalism on Locke Street businesses'
‘These were criminals’: Hamilton police provide update on vandalism on Locke Street businesses

Hamilton police are also looking into the possibility of a connection between the incident and the Hamilton Anarchist Book Fair that was happening last weekend at Westdale Secondary School. The organizers declined a request for comment on Sunday.

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A spokesperson for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board said the group has rented space in the past and is in good standing.

“It’s unfortunate what happened on Locke Street. We’re unaware of any connection to any of our rental groups, and to this point, we have not been contacted by the Hamilton police.”

Ward 1 Coun. Aiden Johnson doesn’t know if there’s a connection, but said it would be unfair to jump to any conclusions.

LISTEN: Mark Stewart, Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association

“My assumption … is that the book fair was a non-violent event,” he said. “So, if a non-violent, intellectual book fair is happening at a high school, it’s not at all clear to me that the fair thing to do is to assume right away that that book fair in some way created a violent outbreak of crime on Locke Street.

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“I would need to wait for the evidence on that one.”

Meanwhile, NDP leader Andrea Horwath is encouraging Hamiltonians to support local businesses on Saturday, March 10. Horwath said the #lovelockeday initiative calls for the community to pull together as part of the recovery.

LISTEN: Andrea Horwath on the Locke Street vandalism

Mark Stewart of the Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association said the community is grateful for the support it has received.

“In the wake of this senseless act, the support that we’ve received from everyone in Hamilton has been wonderful and everyone on Locke and our entire neighborhood really appreciates it,” he told The Bill Kelly Show.

LISTEN: How do we deal with events such as the mob on Locke Street?

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With files from Jessica Patton, Lisa Polewski and Paul Tipple

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