July 17, 2019 3:10 pm
Updated: July 17, 2019 3:12 pm

Hamilton mayor says he sees ‘opportunity’ in further meetings with LGBTQ2 residents

Mayor Fred Eisenberger says he hopes to continue meetings with members of the LGBTQ2 community with chief of police Eric Girt.

Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML
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Hamilton’s mayor says he wants to host a private meeting with LGBTQ2 residents and the chief of police — and soon.

During Global News Radio’s Town Hall with Bill Kelly, Fred Eisenberger said the dialogue was important because he sees it as “the only way forward” in building on the “good work” the city has already done.

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The “good work” Eisenberger referred to was training some 800 city works on the “trans protocol” adapted in 2017 to promote the respectful treatment of persons who work or interact with the city.

LISTEN: Global News Radio 900 CHML host Bill Kelly talks with Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger about trying to resume a dialogue with the  LGBTQ2 community 

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The mayor and Hamilton police have been the target of criticism from some LGBTQ2 community members who suggest police “hung back” in response to the violence at Hamilton Pride events at Gage Park on June 15, and that they didn’t address the Pride incident adequately.

Since that day, Eisenberger has faced criticism in the form of depositions at council meetings and a June protest on the front lawn of his home from members of the LGBTQ2 community who erected signs on his front lawn reading “Mayor doesn’t care about queer people.”

READ MORE: Hamilton mayor says he was harassed at his home by ‘agitators’

The mayor attempted to ease tensions in a July 5 private meeting with members of Hamilton’s LGBTQ2 communities that included two new advisors, Cole Gately and Deirdre Pike.

It’s Eisenberger’s hope now to be able to continue that dialogue, this time with chief of police Eric Girt in tow.

“If I were a queer or a trans individual in our community right now I’d certainly be concerned about, you know, the kind of attention that this is getting,” Eisenberger told Bill Kelly.

READ MORE: Hamilton mayor meets with LGBTQ2 community while councillors call for independant police review

“I think there’s a continuing conversation we’re going to have with the police chief present and basically, for me, that first meeting was about listening. It wasn’t about me broadcasting, or, you know, ascribing my views on these individuals.”

Eisenberger says the initial plan is to continue to invite the “broad spectrum in the community” originally invited to the July 5 meeting.

“If they choose to come, great. If they don’t, well then, we’ll have to find another way of getting that level of input.”

Last Friday two city councillors, Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson and Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann, requested an independent investigation of the Hamilton Police Service, which is on the agenda for Thursday’s police services board meeting at city hall.

On Tuesday, Girt told Global News Radio he would be open to an independent review of the incident at Pride and Eisenberger echoed those sentiments in his Wednesday interview.

READ MORE: Chief Girt says he ‘looks forward’ to potential review of police response during altercation at Hamilton Pride

The mayor says having an “independent individual or group” look at the actions of the police and the events leading up to it could be an opportunity.

“I think is going to be an opportunity for everyone to clear the air and hopefully get back to, you know, looking forward on what more can we do to ensure that there are safe, inclusive places for everyone in our community.”

WATCH: Hamilton police investigating suspicious death after woman was killed in overnight fire

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