In light of weekly demonstrations over the last few months, Hamilton’s city manager has offered reassurances that there are short- and long-term plans for preventing the escalation of violence on municipal property.
Janette Smith says that in the short term, there will be “extra security measures” in the city hall forecourt this and every other Saturday.
She adds that a staff report is currently underway that will investigate preventing the use of city parks and public spaces by hate groups. That report is expected to be complete this fall and will get into the complicated legal issues around free speech.
Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson says she’s “at a loss” to understand why stronger action can’t be taken immediately.
“We have a policy. It defines what violence is, it is there to protect against this definition. There is a clear and present danger,” Wilson said.
Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann adds that by allowing hate and extremist ideas to flourish and not acting strongly, “the threat of violence actually increases.”
Wednesday afternoon’s discussion at Hamilton City Hall coincides with rising tensions.
Yellow Vest demonstrations have been happening in the forecourt on Saturdays for several weeks now, and some people in yellow vests also showed up at last week’s Pride Hamilton festival in Gage Park.
A number of Pride supporters were injured in a confrontation involving groups that included religious protesters bearing anti-LGBTQ2 signs.