Shortly after 9am today City of Hamilton bylaw officers began to dismantle the tents set up in front of Hamilton City Hall ending a week-long Defund the Police encampment. By mid afternoon the City Hall forecourt had been cleared out.
Bylaw officers took down the tents and loaded them into city garbage trucks. As the tents were dismantled, demonstrators called for a meeting with Mayor Fred Eisenberger, chanted and live-streamed videos, yelling at the bylaw officers. The mayor had said on the weekend that he was prepared to meet with the protesters but the offer got bogged down when protesters insisted the meeting take place outside city hall rather than inside as the mayor had offered.
A city news release that went out as the dismantling of tents began noted, “over the past week the demonstration in front of City Hall has resulted in crowds of more than 75 people on several occasions.” The release went on to say that an assault on a person with a metal bar was captured on CCTV and there were two overdoses that paramedics had to deal with.tThe city said Thursday night that the demonstrators could stay as long as their numbers were below 25 — but the tents must go.
The city also said the order is meant to encourage the demonstrators to follow the city’s bylaws which bar tents on city property. Staff will also continue to enforce the province’s COVID-19 orders which prohibit outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people, the city said.
The protestors were warned Thursday night that the tents had to be down by midnight Sunday.
At the daily COVID news conference Paul Johnson the head of Safe Communities, while not directly referring to the encampment, said there are shelter spaces available for those who need them.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger said last week the demand for a 50 per-cent budget cut is “not a rational notion. That’s certainly not supported in the broader community and that’s certainly not where we’re going,” the mayor said during a media update Thursday, adding affordable housing continues to be a focus for the city. He went on to remind that he had developed a plan to spend $50 million over 10 years on housing initiatives.