Hamilton City Council is looking at legal options in a bid to end protests by people who “disseminate hatred” or “incite violence.”
Council has approved a motion by Ward 9 Coun. Brad Clark to gather evidence of potential criminal behaviour by groups that have been gathering weekly in the city hall forecourt.
On the basis of evidence that is gathered, the city may seek a court injunction against those demonstrations.
Clark describes what he’s seen in the last couple of months as “incredibly disturbing,” adding that “when you cross that line and you incite violence, when you cross that line and incite hatred, the city needs to step up.”
LISTEN: Scott Thompson talks with Ward 9 Coun. Brad Clark about his motion to tackle protests in the city hall forecourt
He acknowledges that council would be on “shaky ground” to “unilaterally” ban protesters, but if it can gather evidence of criminal behaviour, he believes it should be able to convince a judge to impose a legal ban.
Clark also stresses that while “it’s not going to be an easy path,” it sends a message to the community that “we’re going to try.”
The motion was approved during a tension-filled meeting that was actually stopped for several minutes on Wednesday evening, when several members of the LGBTQ2 community were ordered out of council chambers after shouting at Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla.
LISTEN: Bill Kelly talks with Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Councillor Nrinder Nann about growing concern over the recent relationship between protests and potential for violence in Hamilton
Merulla agitated those in the audience by criticizing a group of Pride supporters in pink masks who blocked far-right extremists holding inflammatory signs during a Gage Park celebration June 15.
Merulla says the counter-protesters are providing “too much oxygen” to the extremists who he describes as “six to 12 morons who are spewing nonsense.”
Tensions have been rising since June 15, when members of the anti-immigration Yellow Vest movement joined religious extremists and clashed with members of the LGBTQ2 community at the Gage Park Pride event.
WATCH: Police arrest suspect involved in Hamilton Pride altercation