Monday morning (Nov. 30), trash bins arrived and by-law officers began the removal of the tents that had been pitched outside of Hamilton City Hall for the last week as part of a demonstration led by the “Defund Police” movement.
Protestors had said they would not leave until the Hamilton Police Service budget of $171-million is slashed by 50 per cent and the removed funds are allocated to free and affordable housing.
They're throwing people's tents and personal belongings into a dumpster. They should store them so folks can claim their stuff later. This sends a really clear message about how our City views those who don't have access to safe or affordable housing. #HamOnt https://t.co/1crESQlfcQ
— Cameron Kroetsch (@CameronKroetsch) November 30, 2020
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Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said last Thursday (Nov. 26) that while he supports the right to protest outside City Hall, bylaws prohibiting camping in the forecourt would be enforced. Shortly after, demonstrators were given notices, requiring the removal of any “tents, structures, or equipment,” according to the City.
“If a person refuses to comply with the order and removal requirement, a Trespass Notice will be issued to them.”
Once a Trespass Notice is handed out, Hamilton Police has the authority to remove any structures and owners occupying them.
The deadline for the removal of the structures by demonstrators was 11:59 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 29).
The City also reiterated its enforcement of any bylaws related to provincial COVID-19 orders, prohibiting outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people under the Red ‘Control’ zone of Ontario’s response framework.
“Over the past week, the demonstration in front of City Hall has resulted in crowds of more than 75 people on several occasions, the presence of approximately 18 tents or other structures on the forecourt, an assault with a metal bar captured on City Hall CCTV camera, and two overdoses which paramedics responded to,” according to the City in an official media release.
The City claims that the Mayor and City Manager offered to meet the organizers of the demonstration in City Hall to discuss their issues and concerns, but the offer was not accepted. It added that demonstrators were also provided with information on how they could present their concerns to City Council through the City’s delegation process.
“We’ve done more than most municipalities when it comes to housing and poverty,” said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, pointing to the nearly $50-million spent on poverty and housing over the last ten years. “Is it enough? Well, it’s never enough and we’re focused on doing more.”
Eisenberger added that the demand for a 50 per cent reduction of the police budget is “not a rational notion and it not supported in the broader community.”