Hate in Hamilton: what went wrong and how we make it right

Hamilton's reputation has taken a hit over the last several weeks as the city investigates a long time staffer for connections to white supremacists, Pride celebrations were marred by a brawl with religious protesters and the city has the highest rate of reported hate crimes in Canada.

Be a part of our live conversation on Wednesday Aug. 7 at noon

Karol Destefano and Martha Christianson demonstrated at the rally on Saturday morning, after attending Pride on Saturday. (Laura Howells/CBC)

The hot summer of 2019 might be remembered as one where the city of Hamilton saw its reputation take a considerable hit.

It started on June 15, just before the summer began. The Hamilton Pride celebration at Gage Park was crashed by a group of self-appointed street preachers carrying homophobic signs that fought with people at the park for the celebration. That was followed by accusations that police were too slow to respond to the fights and that city leaders were slow to condemn the preachers at the park and a group of far right extremists that had been marching at city hall every Saturday for months.

Then, in July, came a report from Statistics Canada that named Hamilton as the city with the highest rate of reported hate crimes in Canada. 

Hamilton's rate was almost three times the national rate of 4.9 per cent per 100,000 people. All of this was happening while the city investigated a long time employee for links to white supremacists.

The anger over the events at Pride even made its way to the home of Mayor Fred Eisenberger where about 20 people showed up to protest, planting signs on his lawn in the early morning on June 28.

On Wednesday at noon CBC Hamilton will host a live conversation on this page and on Facebook to take a look at how this happened in Hamilton, how other cities are dealing with hate speech and hate crimes as well as what the city needs to do to change.

CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs will be joined by McMaster University sociology professors Tina Fetner and Ameil Joseph. Fetner specializes in right wing activism and LGTBQ+ politics. Joseph is a researcher of racism, colonialism, mental health, criminal justice and immigration systems. He interned with Waterloo police and was recently passed over for the third time for a spot on the city's police services board. 

Post a question or comment for our live chat below

We also want to hear from you, through Twitter and Facebook or by email. We want to know what you think about the city how the city can start to fix some of the problems that have gained more attention over the last several weeks. On mobile? Follow this link.

s an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at McMaster University. (Ameil Joseph)
Tina Fetner is an associate professor of Sociology at McMaster University who specializes in right wing activism and LGTBQ politics. (Colin Côté-Paulette/CBC)


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