Pride Hamilton supports the movement to defund the Hamilton Police Service
December 16, 2020
Defund HPS organizers peacefully gathered in the forecourt of Hamilton City Hall for two weeks starting on November 23 culminating in an announcement that they would be launching the Hamilton Encampment Support Network to continue to raise awareness around the link between overfunded policing and a lack of critical resources for houseless Hamiltonians.
As our first public statement as a newly elected Board, we want Hamiltonians to know that Pride Hamilton supports the demands of Defund HPS to reduce budgets for policing and to reallocate those funds to community services, including housing.
Defund HPS has brought our community together in demands for justice around reinvesting a police budget surplus of $567,000 into social services, especially housing. The Hamilton Police Service's 2020 budget totals $171.5 million, a 3.87 per cent increase over its 2019 budget.
There were many moments of solidarity during the 2 week protest by Defund HPS organizers and a deep acknowledgement by those present that conversations about policing and police budgets have been happening in our city for decades. These struggles are not new and they’re not new to our organization.
As every Hamiltonian knows, Pride 2019 was a touchstone moment that renewed the dialogue around policing in Hamilton. It was an opportunity, like the opportunity we have right now, for our city’s leaders to have difficult conversations and make decisions in the interests of all Hamiltonians. Now, as during the aftermath of violence at Pride 2019, our leadership is falling short.
We commend Defund HPS organizers for their brave leadership, for challenging the status quo, and for speaking truth to power transparently, accountably, and in public.
Their leadership is in stark contrast to the position that Mayor Fred Eisenberger, Chair of the Hamilton Police Services Board, has taken in response to what can only be described as a peaceful protest. He has not only refused to meet with Defund HPS organizers but has chastised and condemned them at every possible turn, even going as far as having them arrested and removed from City Hall rather than descending from his office to meet their reasonable requests for a public conversation.
Mayor Eisenberger has shown a complete lack of leadership and has abandoned his duty to engage openly and transparently with all Hamiltonians. The majority of City Councillors have followed suit and have, through their silence, supported the Mayor’s conduct, some doubling down with threats of further surveillance and financial penalties.
We urge every Hamiltonian, every Pride supporter, and everyone who cares about ensuring that we uphold our democracy, to call on the Mayor and members of City Council to step up and have this important conversation and to lead in public. You can visit www.dearhamilton.ca for a complete list of email addresses and phone numbers for members of City Council.
Together, we can change the dialogue and make our community an inclusive and welcoming place for every Hamitonian.
We stand in solidarity with these organizers, including members of Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ communities, and their ongoing efforts to draw attention to housing precarity and houselessness in Hamilton.
For a full list of demands from Defund HPS and to learn more about defunding the police in Hamilton visit www.defundhps.com.
With love and solidarity,