In a statement Friday night, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said he met with members of Hamilton’s LGBTQ2+ communities in the hopes of patching up a strained relationship following violence at a recent Pride Hamilton event.
It was unclear in Eisenberger’s statement on who exactly he met with but he did reveal his two recently appointed advisors for the LGBTQ2+ community initiatives were a part of the session in a private boardroom at City Hall.
“The meeting was positive and constructive. I listened, I learned, and I look forward to continued dialogue,” Eisenberger said.
Eisenberger touted this meeting as one of the first steps in improving dialogue “with these diverse and vibrant communities within our city.”
In the release, the mayor apologized for the “pain and fear” the community was experiencing in relation to the events on June 15 in Gage Park.
He also revealed that his two new advisors, Cole Gately and Deirdre Pike, would not replace the city’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee.
“The LGBTQ Advisory Committee is a volunteer advisory committee that reports to the whole of the council through the Audit, Finance and Administration Committee,” said Eisenberg.
Friday’s meeting came under much fire in the past week with several prominent members of Hamilton’s LGBTQ2+ declining an invitation to attend.
One of those was Cameron Kroetsch, the chair of the city’s LGBTQ2 advisory committee, who said he never could find out “what the meeting is intended to be.”
Kroetsch told Global News Radio on Wednesday that he was “uncomfortable with what’s in the dialogue.”
“There was a violent attack. People were hurt,” Kroetsch said referencing a violent incident between protestors at Pride Hamilton celebrations in Gage Park.
“What should have happened to start this dialogue, was the mayor of one of Canada’s largest cities, should have called the organizers of that event and said simply, hey, are you OK? What happened? What can I do? That never happened.”
Councillors calling for “independent investigation” of police response at Pride
Meanwhile, two city councillors say they met with Eisenberger and members of the Hamilton Police Service, including Chief Eric Girt for several hours on Friday to discuss the same June 15 incident at Pride.
In a statement after the meeting, Ward 1 councillor Maureen Wilson and Ward 3 councillor Nrinder Nann said they will be asking the Hamilton Police Services Board to “launch an independent investigation of the Police Services.”
In the joint statement, the councillors cited concerns on how police were deployed at Pride, and the “fractured” relationship between Hamilton police, the city of Hamilton, and the LGBTQ2+ community.
“We are deeply troubled by the rise of hate in our city,” the statement said. “It is our collective responsibility as citizens to ensure that no one experiences harassment or abuse.”
The councillors go on to say they have “additional questions” following Friday’s meeting, and have “subsequently written to Police Chief Eric Girt requesting a follow-up meeting.”
Academic and Institutional support for Cedar Hopperton
Since the disturbance at Hamilton Pride, there have been five arrests made in relation to the incident, the highest profile being 33-year-old transgender activist Cedar Hopperton, who is still incarcerated at a Milton correctional facility for alleged parole violations.
On Friday, Hopperton received support from a group of academics and institutions, in a social media post.
The post from Solidarity K’jipuktuk Halifax was a letter directed at Eisenberger and Hamilton’s councillors calling for “the halt of the repression of those defending the Pride community from hateful attacks.”
The statement goes on to say, “We join over 55 professors and academics at McMaster University, as well as the Hamilton District Labour Council and countless members of the LGBTQQI2S community nationally, in calling for the immediate release of Cedar Hopperton.”
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