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Dual protests in Hamilton bring out heavy police presence

Protesters in Hamilton on Sunday. Erica Vella/Global News

Two protests that happened in Hamilton on Sunday caused a heavy police presence to be called in to the area of Victoria Park and Locke Street.

The first group walked along Locke Street as part of the Patriot Walk On Locke march, but a group called Hamilton Against Fascists organized a counter-protest, saying the group who organized the initial march are members of “far-right, anti-Muslim, fascist groups.”

“Today there is a number of far-right, anti-Muslim, fascist groups that are marching along Locke Street,” said Martin Rosso, organizer of Hamilton Against Fascists.

“We are here to establish that they can’t establish a foothold in Hamilton.”

READ MORE: Locke St. bracing for weekend protest, counter-protest

Hamilton Police said it was the first march that was the peaceful one.

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“It was peaceful and very short in duration… it was small compared to what went on on Main Street,” said Deputy Chief Dan Kinsella of Hamilton Police Service, adding it was the counter protest that became the concern.

“Citizens, protesters and demonstrators have a right to peaceful and lawful protest and we are happy as the police service to facilitate that and make sure it can happen. What you saw today was not that.”

During the counter-march, protesters were confronting police.

READ MORE: Hamilton police link anarchist book fair, Locke street vandalism investigation

“They were not respectful to the police that were there. They were not respectful of the community,” Kinsella said.

Lauren Barnette came to watch the counter-protest and said while she understands some of the messages being shared by the Hamilton Against Fascists group, she didn’t agree with the aggression expressed towards the police.

“I don’t think them speaking out against the police was really necessary,” she said.

“One of the great things about living in Canada is that we have the right to say whatever it is you want to say… I think it’s important to remember that the police are a vital part of society and we shouldn’t be painting them with a broad brush.”

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

Kinsella said because of a number of events that were happening around Hamilton, officers from Toronto Police Service and Waterloo Regional Police were called to help on Sunday.

“Waterloo Regional Police helped us with Public Order Unit officers and Toronto police supported us with Mounted Patrol Officers,” he said.

“We wanted to make sure we had the appropriate resources to deal with whatever we may be facing.”

Both protests ended in the Sunday afternoon with no injuries or arrests made.

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