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Hamilton police board meeting disrupted by shouts, profanity from the gallery

Hamilton police officers look on after a tense meeting of Hamilton's police services board was disrupted by yelling from the public gallery on Wednesday.
Hamilton police officers look on after a tense meeting of Hamilton's police services board was disrupted by yelling from the public gallery on Wednesday. Don Mitchell

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.

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

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.

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

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.”

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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.

READ MORE: Fifth person arrested in Hamilton Pride violence

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.

READ MORE: LGBTQ2 encampment set up outside Hamilton city hall

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.

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