Hamilton: Renewed Push to Drop the Charges Against Pride Defenders

From Drop the Charges Against Hamilton Pride Defenders (Facebook)

This past summer, the far-right attacked Pride and people stood up to their violence. Immediately following the fight, the police attempted to justify their non-intervention by blaming the Pride committee for denying them a recruitment booth. We are not among those who are asking for more police protection, we had our own backs that day. Following Pride, people demonstrated their anger and solidarity rallying in the streets, gathering for a 3 day occupation outside city hall and paying the mayor a friendly visit. Some of these actions resulted in more charges against participants. Since then things have publicly quieted down, but there have been several interesting things happening in connection to Pride. The police launched their own internal reviews, which seem poised to excuse themselves. There is also an independent inquiry being carried out by an outside law firm. The city council’s LGBTQ+ advisory committee was repeatedly denied permission to speak to the Police Services Board about how someone was arrested and jailed for participating in an open meeting about Pride. This behaviour by the police reveals that they refuse to hear these criticisms from queers; meanwhile they continue aggressively pursuing those who confront the far-right. Their actions have made Hamilton a safe space for the far right, making things worse for the rest of us.

Although the intensity of this past summer has waned, there are still 5 people facing charges for inspiring moments of collective struggle many of us participated in. Those who were targeted were not targeted only as queers or as Pride attendees, but as anarchists and radicals, who are are always opposed to the power of the state and who carry a vision of a world without cops, haters, or politicians. The energy of this past summer left us knowing there are hordes of other people in Hamilton who don’t trust the police and who understand queer self-defense.

This winter, we want to reignite some of that energy. We need to put pressure on the city and the police again because all of their attempts at dialogue can only be hollow while queers still face jail time for defending themselves and others at Pride. The police and city council may claim these charges are out of their hands, but they are still deeply implicated. They have been silent or worse on these issues, they haven’t shown any remorse or understanding, and furthermore the mayor himself pressed some of these charges. We call on Chief Eric Girt and Mayor Fred Eisenberger to reverse their positions and support dropping all charges for Pride Defenders!

Many of us in this community won’t forget what happened at Pride and we still feel the weight of the police & city’s actions targeting queers. So we invite you to send a physical reminder to the police and council of the fact that many people are still paying attention and know they have the power to address these wrongs. To this end we’ve printed 100s of beautiful postcards and would love your help filling mayor Fred & chief Eric’s mailboxes this winter. We’d like you to organize dinner and letter writing parties or just keeping a few postcards on hand. It only takes a few minutes to fill them out.

Putting this kind of pressure on city council and the police is an extension of the type of self-defence and solidarity shown this summer in the park at Pride and in the streets in the weeks following. No dialogue with power until all charges are dropped!