It's Systematic: Struggles Against Policing in Hamilton

February 8, 2020 - 6:00 pm

818 King St E

It’s Systematic: Struggles Against Policing in Hamilton

On Saturday February 8, we will be hosting a panel discussion bringing together voices from three recent struggles around policing in Hamilton. Our hope is to contribute to building a stronger critique of the police locally, and also to a culture of resistance that can restrain the HPS, giving us all a bit more breathing room. The speakers will be: Max Herrara, member of Socialist Fightback and an antifascist who was charged by Hamilton police for their involvement in demonstrating against Maxine Bernier this fall; Sonny Mills, queer activist and playwright who confronted the far-right at Pride and has been deeply involved in the following campaign; and Sarah Jama, founder of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario.


Following the far-right attack on Pride in 2019 and the targeting by police of those who stood up to the haters, HPS received a lot of well-deserved criticism. However, there have been a number of issues around policing in the city in recent years that haven’t always received the same attention. There is a straight line between the Hamilton Police’s defense of carding and racial profiling and the way their aggressive charging of antifascists has created a safe space in town for the racist, misogynistic far-right to thrive. The belligerence and impunity on display in their actions around Pride are routine and continue to affect people across the city, especially those marginalized by racism and poverty.

Its not that HPS is necessarily worse than other policing bodies — carding, siding with the far-right, and attacking their critics all stem from the nature and history of policing itself. We don’t want to make it sound as if we just want Hamilton police to be more like they are elsewhere. However, we do have a specific problem locally and pushing back is urgent. By sharing stories from different recent moments of struggle, we hope to deepen our collective understanding about the specific problem with policing in Hamilton and link it to our systemic analysis of these bodies and the role they play in society. However, it’s not enough to critique; our hope is for this sharing to also open pathways for solidarity and action, within a commitment to making each other safe rather than turn to institutions.

We call for all charges from Pride and its aftermath to be dropped, as well as the absurd charges against antifascists for their opposition to the People’s Party of Canada event at Mohawk College this past September. We continue to encourage everyone to refuse dialogue about Pride or its aftermath with the city or the police until their position on these charges has changed.

Saturday February 8, 6:00pm
CUPE Hall at 818 King St E in Hamilton