An emotional meeting of Hamilton’s police services board has ended with a decision to move towards an independent investigation into the police response to violence at last month’s Pride Festival at Gage Park.
Police Chief Eric Girt and Mayor Fred Eisenberger were both heckled from the public gallery, prompting Thursday afternoon’s meeting to be recessed for more than half an hour before it resumed with controlled public access.
The mayor stopped the meeting after some of those in attendance started chanting: “Fred you suck, shut the f**k up.”
Police board member and Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jackson says he was “saddened by the outburst,” adding that “in my opinion, it’s not constructive.”
Pride supporter Jay Dene, who was among those in the public gallery, counters that they need to hear apologies and see charges dropped against those arrested while protecting the June 15 Pride event from far-right demonstrators.
Dene says elected officials can’t keep saying “we’re smoothing it over and that time has passed,”, adding that “we’re not going to move on until people aren’t facing jail time.”
The board ultimately voted to explore the costs and benefits of an independent review of the Pride response by Hamilton Police.
That analysis will come back to members as soon as it is ready, possibly in time for a special meeting of the police services board in August.
A complaint about the Hamilton police response at the Gage Park Pride event is already under investigation by a provincial watchdog, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.