A Hamilton MPP along with several local black and anti-racist organizations are calling on Hamilton Police to drop charges against those arrested last week during protests related to the removals from city camps.

The NDP’s Matthew Green is also calling for a judicial investigation into the arrests of affordable housing advocates who demonstrated during the demolition of a camp and others in a separate protest at the central police station days later.

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“I join the community calls for the charges brought against the six youths as a result of these events to be dropped,” Green said in a statement.

“And we look forward to continuing discussions with all levels of government at the Hamilton Center on immediate and long-term solutions to this manufactured home crisis.”

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Hamilton began dismantling camps in city parks after a superior court judge ruled Nov. 2 against a group of homeless residents seeking a permanent injunction to stop the city.

Last week, several homeless Hamilton residents were displaced after a fire ripped through a camp in JC Beemer Park on Victoria Avenue North and Wilson Street.

After crews brought down the blaze, the scene was turned over to Hamilton and city police and those affected were relocated, according to a press release, including six people who were provided places to shelter.

Hours later, authorities reported that a group defending the camp’s residents asked city personnel to refrain from removing what was left of their belongings.

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Finally, arrests were made in the middle of a meeting between defenders and police officers.

During a Wednesday press release on Ferguson Avenue North, community leaders addressed the events of Nov. 24-26, which included the decline of a demonstration at 155 King William St., culminating in arrests and charges for three people.

Ruth Rodney of the Hamilton African-Canadian Caribbean Association suggested that the reserves serve no purpose and could cause deeper divisions in the community.

“In addition to dropping all charges against the youth, we are also asking Chief Bergen to conduct a review of police interaction with citizens in this context of impeachment around social justice issues,” Rodney said.

“The broader and continuing historical context of systemic, institutional and anti-black racism resulting in racial disparities in the criminal justice system makes the need for this review even more pressing.”

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Lyndon George of the Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Center called the images seen during the clashes in Beemer Park and Central Station “deeply disturbing” and drew attention “to the systemic problems of racism in the police force.”

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“Right now, we need more than just conversations about police responsibility to work with all community partners to achieve the best vision … possible to ensure that the black community of Hamilton can live, work, play. and protest peacefully without fear, “George said.

An incident in the central station incident, an alleged “serious injury” to a 24-year-old woman, is now the subject of an investigation by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

A spokesman for the attorney general’s ministry, which has the authority over a judicial investigation, told Global News that it would be “inappropriate to comment” on the matter due to the SIU investigation and the fact that a complaint has now been made to the courts. .

Hamilton Police spokesman Jackie Penman echoed that statement for the same reasons, saying “the service will not comment further.”

“We heard the perspectives, stories and impact that were shared at this morning’s press conference. We welcome and accept the opportunity to come to the table with the community to seek a solution to the events that occurred during the past week, “Penman told Global News in an email.

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“We are committed to working with the community to have a serious, honest and transparent conversation.”

Mayor believes ‘activism’ stands in the way of ‘important job’

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger told the CHML 900 Bill Kelly program that he believes the “social activism” seen with the Beemer Park and Central Station incidents is “obstructing the very important work” the city is doing. to find alternatives for the 60 people who are estimated to “live in difficult conditions.” . “

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Eisenberger said that despite $ 150 million a year from three tiers of government for those found homeless in the city, many choose not to accept his offer, creating “unsafe” camps for people to do. reside.

“The reality is that long-term solutions are being worked on each and every day,” Eisenberger said before Wednesday’s media event with members of black and anti-racism organizations.

“Do we ever solve this problem? I’m not sure we will. “

The mayor says the city needs “partnerships” with those who are prepared to help the homeless advance rather than obstruct the work they are trying to accomplish.

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Residents displaced after fire tore through a homeless camp in Hamilton Park

Some 7,000 affordable homes managed by the city and another 7,000 managed through nonprofit sectors make up the housing package that the city has to work with to put a roof over its head for those in need.

Mental health supports are something Eisenberger says all three levels of government will have to address, as he believes current issues surround adequate housing for people with disorders.

“Right now, we are taking that responsibility and sadly we are putting the police in front of this when it really is not their responsibility, it is our collective responsibility,” Eisenberger said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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