Hamilton police will be 'highly visible' during the Patriot Walk on Locke on Sunday
'We are encouraging demonstrators to be considerate towards our community and respect the law,' say police
Hamilton police say they will be 'highly visible' during an anticipated Sunday of protest and counter protest on Locke Street.
Online posts have indicated that there will be a 'Patriot Walk on Locke' Street Sunday by right wing groups and that protest will matched by a counter project by an anti-fascist group in the city.
The walk comes just a few weeks after Locke Street was the scene of a vandalism by a group of masked anarchists. The Patriot Walk is being billed as in support of the Locke Street neighbourhood.
These are not boy scouts, they aren't bringing people in from across Southern Ontario because they love coffee shops.- Ed Bethune, a member of the Hamilton Against Fascism group
"They're trying to use this as an opportunity to rally people up for their white nationalist agenda," said Ed Bethune, a member of the Hamilton Against Fascism.
Shop owners and residents have been critical of the police response but police say they are planning ahead for Sunday.
"We are encouraging demonstrators to be considerate towards our community and respect the law," said a statement issued by Hamilton police.
"There will be a zero tolerance approach to any unlawful or criminal activity."
Due to the outpour of mixed emotions on social media about the Locke Street vandalism incident, Hamiltonians Against Fascism (HAF) have indicated they are planning a counter-rally against the apparent march organized by far right groups.
They say the groups promoting the Patriot walk are a front for far right groups that have an ultra-nationalist agenda.
"Wherever they go, we go," read the HAF Facebook event page, posted on Tuesday. "We rally to confront and denounce this cynical attempt at re-branding by 'western chauvinist', white supremacist, Islamophobic fascists."
A spokesman for the Hamilton police say while they are well aware of the rallies, they would not further explain the details of how many officers will be on site.
Based on the images found on the Anti-Racist Canada blog-spot, the far right groups that will most likely be in attendance on Sunday are: The Proud Boys, III%ers (three per-centers), Ontario Northern Guard, and the Soldiers of Odin to name a few.
"These are not boy scouts," said Bethune. "They aren't bringing people in from across Southern Ontario because they love coffee shops."
"Everything they are trying to do is to stir up racist and xenophobic sentiments," Bethune said.
CBC Hamilton reached out to numerous members of the Proud Boys: Chris Kimbo, Tim Kelly, and Robert Jones, none of the group members responded.
There have been online comments that the participants in the Patriot Walk on Locke will also pay a visit to The Tower— Hamilton's anarchist space which was recently vandalized during the wake of the Locke Street incident.
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"We should visit the tower and surround it and show them that we are around," said the march's organizer and member of the III%ers, Shawn McBeath, (commonly known as Bain Scott) said in a Facebook message in a group chat. "Show strength but no contact."
CBC Hamilton also contacted The Tower for their response to Scott's message, only to receive a statement saying, "We don't talk to media."
HAF has mentioned in its Facebook post that a vast majority of their members will be wearing masks for protection from the far right groups.