An unprecedented wave of public involvement to defund the police has seen letters from over 400 people. Over 40 video delegations coming this Tuesday, September 8th
News from Citizens at City Hall (CATCH), a citizens watchdog group in Hamilton Ontario
Posted September 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
Hamilton, Ontario – In an unprecedented wave of public involvement in a civic issue, Hamilton officials have received written correspondence from over 400 people supporting the defund police campaign. The outpouring continues this week with more than three dozen people set to make personal video delegations to city councillors at the Tuesday morning on-line general issues committee meeting.
The comments and demands are various but most call for shifting police budget dollars “towards initiatives fighting against food insecurity, racism and towards more affordable housing.” Many demand that police stop ticketing and surveillance of houseless and disabled people, and end the purchase of more weapons and high tech surveillance equipment.
The number of individuals submitting these highly critical letters is even more extraordinary given the reasonable fear that publicly challenging the police and their practices could result in personal repercussions.
Thirty-two delegations were already approved in early August and at least ten more want to join them according to the posted agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. It also contains five written submissions.
Those are on top of nearly 300 letters sent to the city earlier this summer. Those were subsequently forwarded to the police services board for its July meeting, and joined 88 more that had been submitted directly to the police board.
At that meeting, board co-chair Don MacVicar acknowledged the correspondence, said that he had “reviewed each one of them”, and provided a 60-second “summary” that included how many came from each city ward (although this breakdown only totalled about a tenth of the letters). MacVicar thanked the correspondents and spent another 60 seconds listing various reports on the board’s current and future agendas which he saw as responding to the correspondence.
“So the board and staff have a lot of work to do over the next while, but we are listening and we are responding,” he concluded , “and you can see there’s a lot of information coming through in the next few meetings.”
Nearly all the correspondents want cuts to the police budget and those demands will almost certainly be underlined in this week’s video delegations. According to MacVicar, “some” also oppose defunding, although that only applies to two of the 88 sent directly to the board and no more than a handful of the 297 forwarded from the city.
One of the latter came from Ryan Burne who labelled ) police defunding “radical left thinking and dangerous” and promised to do “everything in my power and influence to get all Police Service Board members and politicians who entertain this idea voted and removed from there [sic] positions.”
On the other side Vilma Rossi argues that “year after year police budgets have expanded – vacuuming up resources from increasingly precarious social and health services.” She also contends that efforts to reform the police have repeatedly failed.
“We have seen decades of special inquiries, taskforces, commissions and reports. And still violence against members of the community continue at the hands of police officers while many politicians voice 100% support for police rather than doing their due diligence to hold police services and individual police officers accountable when violence is enacted against community members.
“Policing has not resulted in safer communities; in fact, the opposite is true. Poverty has been criminalized. Structural and systemic inequities have been ignored while police are given more and more power, weapons and resources which, all too frequently, are used against people who are Indigenous, Black, racialized, poor, unhoused, living with abusive partners, or simply engaged in peaceful dissent.”
Tuesday’s (September 8th) meeting starts at 9:30 am and can be viewed live at https://hamiltoncatch.us20.list-manage.com/track/click?u=8ffda5515733a1dd97a7b21fa&id=58d6f70bbd&e=a31ab29d46.
Find this article on the CATCH website here (https://hamiltoncatch.Citius20.list-manage.com/track/click?u=8ffda5515733a1dd97a7b21fa&id=c139944634&e=a31ab29d46) , along with the full archive of CATCH articles.
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