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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Hamilton Ontario: A Troubling Timeline

INTRODUCTION:

Hamilton is in crisis. It may seem alarmist to use that word, but when we review the events of the past year, it is impossible to come to any other conclusion. I believe I can speak for all of us at ARC Collective when I say that we are deeply troubled by the lack of support HPS has shown anti-racists so far, while government officials appear to mishandle the situation. There have been a few positive steps, including the beginnings of an independent review of police conduct at Hamilton Pride, but these steps are barely a start and do not go nearly far enough.

When developments occur in Hamilton -- both positive and negative -- it seems to us that everyone responding, including government, police, and the media, are missing the larger context of each individual incident. As a result, patterns are being overlooked and mistakes are being compounded. That's why Nosferatu, Yellow Vests Canada Exposed, and myself collaborated, along with consulting community activists, to create this living document. It is our hope that it will help everyone situate the latest events within the greater whole, and that maybe, just maybe, that will lead to new insights, questions, and possible solutions.

I originally intended to end this timeline at the close of 2019, but since it is clear the crisis will not magically resolve on December 31st, we will continue adding to it as long as necessary. We have done our best to put together a complete representation of events, however, we recognize that there are some we may be unaware of, or that things have been missed. If there is anything you think we should add, please reach out to the blog.

- BloodRayne


JAN - MAY 2019:
  • Multiple anti-Muslim demonstrations occurred in Hamilton. 
  • Yellow Vest rallies a weekly occurrence, beginning in December. 
  • Sat. Jan 12th - A Yellow Vest protester swings a telescoping baton at counter-protesters.
  • Sat. Jan 26th - An antifascist is arrested at a Yellow Vests Canada rally.
MAY 2019:
  • Wed. May 8th - VICE reports that Marc Lemire, the one-time leader of the Heritage Front and general high profile white supremacist, had been working for the City of Hamilton in their IT Department for years. Lemire was put on leave pending an independent investigation.
  • Thurs. May 9th - VICE reports on odd circumstances surrounding Lemire’s employment (being left off some directories; using extension on voicemail instead of name). In the report, Hamilton lawyer Craig Burley comes forward, stating he notified the City of Lemire’s past in November, 2018.
JUNE 2019:
Chris Vanderweide (red helmet) assaulting counter-protesters at Gage Park. Vanderweide has since become a cult-hero on the Far-Right, often dubbed "Canadian Pan Man", after Proud Boy Ethan Nordean. Vanderweide's behaviour on social media is that of a man who is not remorseful for what he has done, but rather a protector and defender, against what he calls "evil." Vanderweide was a key instigator in the Toronto Eaton Centre brawl the weekend following Hamilton Pride.

JULY 2019: 
  • Mon. July 8th - It comes to light that Cedar Hopperton’s arrest was not regarding their alleged activity at Pride, but instead a response to their speech at City Hall on June 19th. Cedar’s parole continues to be revoked. The parole board maintained that Hopperton was inciting violence in an anti-police speech. 
  • Fri. July 12th - Canadian Civil Liberties Assoc. announces they are looking into Hopperton’s detention. 
  • Tues. July 16th - Cedar Hopperton is released from jail. The reasons for their incarceration continue to confuse and puzzle the community.
  • Thurs. July 18th - Chris Vanderweide is released from jail. Bail conditions stipulate that he must reside at his surety, Joshua Peyton's, home. Given that Peyton is also a hatriot, this seems like a spectacularly bad idea.

AUGUST 2019:

SEPTEMBER 2019:
  • Wed. Sept 4th - City council votes to reject Paul Fromm and Lisa Thompson's requests to speak to council. 
  • Sun. Sept. 29th - PPC counter-protest outside Mohawk College. Three anti-fascists appear to block the path of an elderly woman and her companion who were attempting to enter the building. At least one counter-protester alleges that he was assaulted by a Proud Boy. It is alleged that Proud Boys worked security for Bernier (which was confirmed via the Proud Boys Canada Telegram channel) and attacked a peaceful counter-protester
  • Mon. Sept. 30th - Yellow Vests and assorted racists begin their campaign to identify and harass the three who appeared to block the elderly woman. Alaa Al Soufi was quickly identified, and his family's Toronto-based restaurant, Soufi's, was relentlessly targeted. At this point, the harassment against the Al-Soufis escalates.

OCTOBER 2019:
  • Sat. Oct. 5th - Day 2 of the Gandhi 150 Peace Conference. Organizers invited Yellow Vesters, including Lily and Justin Long, to participate in their Peace March and speeches outside City Hall. Lily takes the opportunity to film and harass community members, while organizers call them "brothers." Mayor Fred Eisenberger reportedly participated in photo ops with the Yellow Vesters. While Day 1 of the conference included multiple community and city leaders participating in proactive breakout sessions, Day 2 was a stark contrast, and some attendees spoke out
 
 
Photo credit: Beth Jacob Synagogue, edited/published by Global News
  • Tues. Oct. 8th - Soufi's restaurant could no longer operate safely and announced that they were closing permanently due to the racist harassment and death threats they received.
  • Thurs. Oct 10th - HPS arrest and charge two 19-year-old males with mischief under $5,000 for writing hate graffiti in chalk outside Beth Jacob Synagogue on Oct. 5th. 
  • Wed. Oct. 23rd - HPS announces that they have arrested and charged 3 anti-racists, Alaa Al Soufi, Kevin Metcalf, and Maximiliano Herrera, in connection with the September 29th CPP counter-protest outside Mohawk College. Meanwhile, those assaulted by Bernier's security detail, CPP supporters, and Proud Boys have not seen any charges brought against their assailants. It was later announced a 4th protester, Victoria Wojciechowska, was also arrested, bringing the total to 4. HPS has still not arrested any of the far-right agitators, despite violence being caught on film and complaints made on the scene.
  • Tues. Oct 29th - Hamilton Anti-Racist Resource Centre (HARRC) released the results of a summer study on racism in Hamilton.

NOVEMBER 2019:

DECEMBER 2019:
  • Sun. Dec. 1st (approx) - Lily apparently moves to Toronto. On Sat. Dec. 7th, she holds her first Yellow Vest protest in that city's west end. It is unclear whether Lily will commute to Hamilton for any protests, or what impact her departure will have on Hamilton events, if any.
  • Tues. Dec. 3rd - HPS announces that they have charged Michael Lickers with Assault Level One and Intimidation as a result of their investigation into the PPC counter-protest outside Mohawk College protest on Sept. 29th. They also laid additional charges against Alaa Al-Soufi including Charges: Assault Level One, Theft Under $5,000, Intimidation, Disguise with Intent. Along with this press release, HPS shares the photos of 3 individuals they're looking to identify in order to lay charges. While it is not confirmed, it is strongly suspected all 3 are anti-racists.

  • Sat. Dec. 7th - Police arrest Rebecca Long for kicking an anti-racist in the head "like a soccer ball." To date, Long is only the second racist/Yellow Vester we are aware of who has been charged in Hamilton this year, and the first to be charged at a Saturday Yellow Vest protest. The first was Chris Vanderweide, and it is unknown whether the two charged in the Beth Jacob graffiti incident are connected to hate groups.




  • Wed. Dec. 11th - Article published by Samantha Craggs outlines concerns raised at a public meeting about the City's decision to take over the Hamilton Anti-Racist Resource Centre (HARRC) for the next 6-12 months. As a result, the Centre would lose its physical space and be reduced to an online and telephone reporting system. 
"We know from the data that no one will use that centre if there's a city-run centre that's only an online reporting system and a phone line. Then we lose that centre. The centre that everyone laboured for. There's a lot of not listening that's repeating." - Dr. Ameil Joseph, McMaster University

  • Thurs. Dec. 12th - HPS votes in favour of accepting the terms of reference their independent investigator, lawyer Scott Bergman, put forward for conducting his investigation into HPS' handling of Pride. This includes examining whether police culture contributed "to the violence, and distrust between police and the LGBTQ community." Community members remain cautiously optimistic.

JANUARY 2020:
APRIL 2020:
  • Thurs. April 30th - Deadline for lawyer Scott Bergman's independant review of HPS' handling of Hamilton Pride 2019.
SEPTEMBER 2020:
MISC:

Over the last several months, Yellow Vesters such as Rick Boswick and Lily have been thanking the HPS for their service, and clearly indicating they believe the police are on their side Lily often attended rallies holding a sign that thanked HPS.
Photos of Lily at Hamilton Yellow Vest rallies holding her signs thanking the HPS and City Council





ADDITIONAL MEDIA:

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