July 26, 2019 5:17 pm

Hamilton anti-hate coalition to launch ‘No Hate in the Hammer’ campaign

Pride supporters hold up signs across the street from Yellow Vest protesters in front of Hamilton city hall during a Pride rally earlier this month.

Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML
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A coalition of local organizations is banding together to launch a campaign to stand up for diversity and inclusion and fight hate in Hamilton.

Organized by the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, and the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington & Area, the ‘No Hate In The Hammer” campaign is in response to members of hate groups gathering in front of city hall on a regular basis, as well as violence at Hamilton Pride and an alarming number of police-reported hate crimes in the city.

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Hugh Tye, executive director of the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, said organizers want to facilitate a discussion to respond to a rise in hateful extremist views in the city.

“We’re concerned about the Yellow Vesters at city hall, we were very concerned when the violence broke out at the Pride event, and recent statistics that name Hamilton as the ‘hate capital’ of the country,” said Tye.

“We think it requires a community response, and so this campaign is an opportunity to bring folks together under a broad umbrella.”

READ MORE: Hamilton has highest rate of police-reported hate crime in Canada: StatsCan

He said he hopes the coalition includes people from all walks of life in Hamilton, including institutions, agencies, government, police, and the media.

The campaign will launch with an open community event next Thursday in the McMaster Centre for Continuing Education at Jackson Square, where Tye said there will be a moderated discussion on what should be done to combat hate going forward.

“Giving people an opportunity, not only to articulate perhaps some of the experiences they’ve been having, but their thoughts on a community response, and what does that look like? How do we build an inclusive community and make sure that’s the message that all people hear loud and clear?”

Mayor Fred Eisenberger said he thinks the campaign is “terrific”, adding that “one hate crime is one hate crime too many”.

“There’s a broader community [and] we need to educate and learn and appreciate what the impacts are and how we can stand together against any kind of hate against any of our groups that are being put upon,” said Eisenberger.

“It’s a kind of ideology that I abhor, and we need to continue to talk about Hamilton for all, and stand up for all of those communities that are being targeted by these hate groups.”

READ MORE: Hamilton city council easing up on protest rules for city hall forecourt

The city had faced some criticism from members of the LGBTQ2 community for how it responded to the violence at Hamilton Pride, as well as how Hamilton police acted on the day of the event.

Tye said he thinks it’s a learning opportunity for the city.

“I think the city didn’t respond as well as the community might like it to,” said Tye. “But I think there’s still lots of opportunity for the city to listen to community and participate in the dialogue and the formation of a response.

“I know there’s a lot of blame going around and we certainly concur with some of that, but we want to focus on moving forward in a positive way and try to have the coalition be as broad as possible.”

WATCH: (June 26, 2019) Police arrest suspect involved in Hamilton Pride altercation

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