Hamilton councillor alleges intimidation by police, as demonstration continues at city hall

Click to play video 'Protesters demand defunding police in front of Hamilton city hall' Protesters demand defunding police in front of Hamilton city hall
WATCH: (Nov. 23) A group of protesters in front of Hamilton city hall demanded Monday the defunding of the police and for that budget to be allocated to free permanent housing. They also demanded an immediate 50 per cent reduction of Hamilton's police budget – Nov 23, 2020

Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann is alleging police intimidation of demonstrators as an encampment protest continues for a third day in the Hamilton city hall forecourt.

Coun. Nann stated, during Wednesday’s meeting of city council, that she’s been sent link to a video of a young person leaving the demonstration and being followed to their vehicle and “detained in their vehicle for a so-called traffic violation that never took place.”

She adds that the individual was “eventually not ticketed, were released and free to go.”

Read more: Demonstrators camp out in front of Hamilton city hall, call for defunding of police

Nann says “this form of police intimidation of following people as they leave a demonstration is one that racialized, and specifically Black Canadians, have had to endure at the hands of police throughout Canada.”

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She is asking for assurances from councillors who sit on the Hamilton police services board “that we can get some accounting for those kind of tactics.”

Hamilton City Manager Janette Smith has explained the constant police presence at the demonstration, saying officers are there to ensure protestors are adhering to current public health guidelines, including a 25-person gathering limit.

Smith says “the city respects the public’s right to peacefully protest and ensure their voices are heard on important municipal matters,” but at times, she adds that the number of demonstrators has been “closer to 75 or 80.”

She stresses that municipal bylaw officers and police are there, “to get those numbers down.”

Read more: Organizer of anti-mask protest at Hamilton city hall charged: police

Smith was also asked by Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr to explain why the site hasn’t been cleared since it is illegal to camp on City of Hamilton property.

She says the city is “not treating this, right now, as an encampment.” Instead, she adds that it’s being treated as “a protest that involves people camping overnight.”

The demonstrators are demanding a large portion of the police budget be reallocated to address the city’s housing crisis.

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Specifically, they want 50 per cent of the Hamilton police budget reallocated to housing, along with the 2020 budget surplus.