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Hamilton protester kicked man’s head like a ‘soccer ball,’ witness says

A sign out front of Hamilton city hall during a Saturday protest.
A sign out front of Hamilton city hall during a Saturday protest. Kevin MacKay / Facebook

A Mohawk College professor, who joined colleagues supporting anti-hate demonstrators at Hamilton City Hall on Saturday, says it was “a little bit disturbing” to see a man being kicked in the head by another protester.

“I almost didn’t know what I was seeing at first,” said Kevin MacKay, the vice-president of the faculty union at Mohawk College.

“I saw at the corner of Bay and Main there was a person on the ground, and yeah, this woman ran up and — just like she was going to kick a soccer ball or a football — went and kicked him in the head.”

Hamilton police, monitoring the protest between Yellow Vest demonstrators and anti-hate supporters, say the 51-year-old male victim was initially treated at the scene for minor injuries and then transported to hospital, where he was later released.

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

Officers who witnessed the assault arrested 53-year-old Rebecca Long from Hamilton, subsequently charging her with assault.

Long was released on a promise to appear and is scheduled in court on Jan. 7, 2020.

Police believe the altercation happened in a dispute over the removal of signage.

MacKay said he didn’t see that but was certain the man struck by the woman was on the side of the anti-hate protesters.

Hate speech versus free speech
Hate speech versus free speech

“One of the tricky things about the Yellow Vesters is they will show up at City Hall and they’ll put up all of these signs to light posts and they’ll stick them all over the place, which apparently is, you know, it’s not a cool thing to do under bylaw, and it’s actually okay for someone to remove those.”

MacKay says he saw the “aftermath” which became a dust-up where the 51-year-old was was tackled by another yellow vest.

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

When asked about the police response to the altercation, MacKay said they generally did their job.

“I think they could do their jobs better, but, it’s a difficult job they’re doing there.”

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Hamilton police have been under scrutiny since the spring after criticisms from members of Hamilton’s LGBTQ2 community about how they responded when homophobic and far-right protesters showed up at the Pride festival, violently clashing with Pride supporters.

Four members of the LGBTQ2 community and one from an anti-Pride contingent were arrested after the altercation at Gage Park June 15.

Accusations of a slow response are now under review by Toronto lawyer Scott Bergman of Cooper, Sandler, Shime & Bergman LLP who was appointed by a city subcommittee in November.

READ MORE: Toronto lawyer will lead review of police actions at 2019 Hamilton Pride celebrations

Bergman is expected to have the outline of his review ready for the police board meeting set for Thursday afternoon. Bergman’s report and recommendations are expected in April of 2020.

Yellow vests have turned up at events across Canada and generally opposed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s leadership. However, the Hamilton chapter of the group have been accused of promoting hate.

Federal Election 2019: Yellow vest protesters show up at Trudeau campaign event in Barrie, Ont.
Federal Election 2019: Yellow vest protesters show up at Trudeau campaign event in Barrie, Ont.

Since the altercation at Pride 2019, groups have been protesting weekly in front of City Hall.

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Hamilton Police say Saturday’s incident is still an active investigation. Anyone with information is encouraged to call police at 905-546-4725.