Hamilton police want to be 'in a better place' with LGBTQ community
Police will meet LGBTQ reps at an offsite, neutral location on Thursday
Hamilton police are meeting with LGBTQ community members two months after a violent confrontation at the city's Pride festival, which resulted in injuries and arrests.
Jackie Penman, spokesperson for the Hamilton police, said the meeting will allow officers to "listen first-hand to community concerns" and work with the LGBTQ community to "move towards a better place."
"This is only the starting point of many conversations," she said. "There is much work to do and we must start somewhere."
Violence erupted back in June, when religious protesters with homophobic signs showed up at the Pride festival. Pink-masked anarchists set up a black barrier to block the signs, and the two groups and attendees clashed.
Protestors have since criticised Hamilton police for their response to the altercation.
Pride Hamilton said the police took too long to respond to the violence. And others have decried some of the arrests, pointing out that police arrested three of the pink-masked counter-protestors, but only one religious protestor.
Penman said 22 people will attend the meeting, including the chief, deputy chief, community relations coordinator, and members of the LGBTQ2S internal support network from the Hamilton police.
People from "a number of organizations" and community members will also be there. Pride and the city's LGBTQ advisory committee have been invited.
The Chief of Police has invited people from the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to a meeting next Thursday, including Pride Hamilton. Pride has agreed to go to the meeting and wanted folks to know. Over the next week, our Board will be drafting its comments. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HamOnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HamOnt</a> (1/2)—@HamiltonPride
Penman said the goal is to identify next steps in re-establishing the lines of communication between the LGBTQ community and the police.
She called it an "initial conversation" and "opportunity for Hamilton police service to actively listen to the community."
The meeting will take place at an offsite, neutral location on Thursday, Aug. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m.
The city's LGBTQ advisory committee will talk about the request tonight at its 6:30 p.m. meeting at city hall.
Police are also expected to meet with the city and those from the LGBTQ community in the fall for an anti-hate forum.
With files from Dan Taekema