Pride Hamilton files Human Rights Tribunal complaint against Hamilton police, city

Pride Hamilton has filed a human rights complaint against Hamilton police following the events of the organization's Pride 2019 event. Will Erskine / Global News

Pride Hamilton has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against the Hamilton Police Service and the City of Hamilton.

The application, which was filed on June 12 ahead of a one-year deadline, alleges police discriminated against the organization by failing to protect Pride-goers from violence at the Hamilton Pride festival at Gage Park on June 15, 2019.

“It’s our view that Hamilton Police Services discriminated against our organization on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression through its failure to properly plan for, protect and respond to threats to the 2019 Pride celebrations in Hamilton,” reads a statement from the organization.

Read more: Hamilton LGBTQ2 residents react to Pride 2019 review: ‘We knew that we were right about this’

It’s asking for $600,000 in damages to support “initiatives, programs and/or organizations in Hamilton’s two-spirit and LGBTQIA+ communities.”

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That’s the same amount that the city’s police services board allocated for an independent review of police response to Pride 2019, which determined that police response was “inadequate” in dealing with violence before, during and after it unfolded.

The complaint also singles out the city for defending the police response.

“The chair of the Hamilton Police Services Board and the mayor of the city of Hamilton made public comments that defended the HPS’s preparation and response,” the statement goes on to say. “These comments served to support and embolden the conduct of the Hamilton Police Service.”

Read more: Independent review says police response to violence at 2019 Hamilton Pride ‘inadequate’

Pride Hamilton says it’s retained Ross & McBride LLP and will be represented by a legal team led by human rights lawyer Wade Poziomka.

Spokespeople from the City of Hamilton and Hamilton police say they have not yet received a notice from the tribunal.

“Hamilton Police are aware of the media release issued by Pride Hamilton but we have not received anything from the human rights tribunal yet, ” Hamilton police spokesperson Jackie Penman told Global News, “We will not be making any comment on the application.”


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