Toronto man facing charge in toppling of Sir John A. Macdonald statue at Hamilton’s Gore Park

A picture of the John A. MacDonald Statue in Hamilton's Gore Park after being toppled on Aug. 14, 2021 by demonstrators. Global News

A 56-year-old Toronto man has been charged in connection with toppling of the Sir John A. Macdonald statue at Gore Park in downtown Hamilton.

Police say numerous tips from the public helped investigators identify the suspect who was one of a couple hundred that attended the planned Indigenous Freedom Rally at City Hall and Gore Park on Saturday afternoon.

The accused is facing a mischief over $5,000 charge and has been released on an undertaking. He’s expected in court at a later date.

Police say estimated damage is in excess of $5,000 after spray paint, a hammer and grinder were used by demonstrators on the statue once it was knocked to the ground.

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The rally on Saturday was in answer to city council’s decision on July 9 to keep the statue in place amid calls from some in the community to remove it.

Click to play video: 'Sir John A statue removed from Kingston’s City Park'
Sir John A statue removed from Kingston’s City Park
“The purpose of a statue is to assert, promote and celebrate cultural values. By keeping this statue in a public space, it acts as a reminder of the values that lead to the forcible removal of Indigenous children and the destruction of families. It invokes great pain and forces community members to relive the trauma for which Sir John A. MacDonald is partially responsible,” organizers said in a letter posted on a Facebook listing promoting the rally.

Hamilton councillors did vote to review the city’s landmarks and monuments in the near future at a cost about $75,000.

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Other Canadian cities, such as Kingston and Charlottetown, have removed their statues of Canada’s first prime minister in recent weeks in light of his role in establishing the country’s residential school system and the damage that his policies have done to Indigenous people.

The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their relatives suffering with trauma invoked by the recall of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.

With files from Lisa Polewski

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