The Hamilton Police Services Board has shot down a request by Kojo Damptey, the Executive Director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion for a judicial inquiry into the clash between police and protestors during and following the removal of the homeless encampment at J.C. Beemer Park in November. Damptey had issued a request to appear at a future meeting of the Police Services Board to make a case for the inquiry; but the request for the inquiry was headed off at today’s meeting.
In a statement the Board said it had no jurisdiction to order such an inquiry, adding, “the Hamilton Police Service is subject to numerous levels of effective and accountable oversight, including, but not limited to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the Office of the Independent Review Director (OIPRD). These are arms-length agencies that investigate police interactions with the public. They are equipped to investigate matters within their respective mandates.” The statement also noted that the matter is before the courts.
The SIU was called in by Hamilton Police to investigate charges that it used unnecessary force in the arrest of one of the protesters following the encampment incident, but last week issued a statement declining to get involved as the alleged injury did not rise to the level of severity needed to trigger an SIU investigation. The SIU mandate is to investigate police actions that end in death or a serious injury.The SIU website provides the following definition of a serious injury:
A person sustains a serious injury if the injury in question is likely to interfere with the person’s health or comfort and is not transient or trifling in nature.; A serious injury includes:
an injury that results in admission to a hospital;
a fracture to the skull, or to a limb, rib or vertebra;
burns to a significant proportion of a person’s body;
the loss of any portion of a person’s body; or
a loss of vision or hearing.
Damptey is calling for police to drop all the charges of obstruction against the woman who was the subject of the SIU inquiry, and four others who were charged following the encampment clash. Those charged include Sarah Jama who until recently was listed as an Outreach Coordinator at the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion. She is a founder of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO) which operates out of the same office and shares the same phone number as HCCI. Two other staff of the DJNO were charged –Sahra Soudi and Rowa Mohamed. Two others, Gregory Vongen and Jordan Grace were also charged. They are all scheduled to be in court February 7th.