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Politics

Hamilton city manager says action on controversial demonstrations is a ‘priority’

Hamilton police say they "escorted" two groups out of Gage Park on Saturday after a disturbance related to Pride Hamilton festivities.
Hamilton police say they "escorted" two groups out of Gage Park on Saturday after a disturbance related to Pride Hamilton festivities. Will Erskine / Global News

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.

READ MORE: Mayor expresses disappointment with disruptions at Hamilton Pride celebration

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.

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READ MORE: Police report ‘minor injuries’ after altercation between two groups near Hamilton Pride Event

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.

READ MORE: Trudeau disrupted by yellow vest protesters at Toronto funding announcement

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.

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