Hamilton

No arrests or injuries during duelling protests in Hamilton

About 150 protesters and counterprotesters made their way to Victoria Park in Hamilton Sunday.

Approximately 150 demonstrators made their way to Victoria Park Sunday, met by heavy police presence

Members of the group, Hamilton Against Fascism, organized a counter protest to 'Patriot Walk on Locke,' organized by right-wing groups. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

Hamilton police say there were no arrests or injuries during the anticipated protest and counterprotest that saw approximately 150 people gather in Victoria Park Sunday.

Earlier this week online posts indicated that was going to be a Patriot Walk on Locke Street Sunday organized by right-wing groups. Counterprotesters belonging to an anti-fascist group in the city then announced that they would be confronting the Patriot Walk.

The Hamilton Against Fascism group demonstrators walked along Main Street until they reached Victoria Park where they gathered to chant and argue against apposing views. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

Members of a group calling themselves, Hamilton Against Fascism, walked along Main Street until they reached Victoria Park where they gathered to chant and argue against apposing views. The demonstration didn't make its way onto Locke Street. 

The duelling protests did not result in any arrests or injuries, Hamilton police said.

Claiming victory

On Facebook, Hamilton Against Fascism claimed victory on the day shortly after the demonstration.

"Hamilton Against Fascism is thrilled to announce that the fascist Patriot March on Locke Street was a complete and utter failure," a Facebook post from the group read. "Today was a resounding defeat for the far-right in Hamilton, and a huge victory for anti-fascist forces."

On their Facebook page, the Hamilton Against Fascism group says, "Hamilton Against Fascism is thrilled to announce that the fascist "Patriot March" on Locke Street was a complete and utter failure." (Laura Clementson/CBC)

Patriot March participant Rob Noble said he's a Proud Boy. As previously reported by CBC, the group describes itself as "a fraternal organization of Western Chauvinists who will no longer apologize for creating the modern world."

Noble says he attended the demonstration because of the vandalism on Locke Street a few weeks ago.

"I'm here to protest against what happened on Locke Street by these types of people and I'm here to protest in general the negative culture that these people are part of," said Noble. "We're in favour of reinvigorating the backbone of our values. That's what we're all about because we think that our values are good. No values are perfect or ever work perfectly."

Noble says capitalism democracy "is the best" and that we "have to reinvigorate it."

"I think what's going on in Hamilton is going on all across the Western world. It's incredibly negative. It's a knee-jerk sort of impulsive thrust toward believing that our values are inherently wrong, we're guilty of everything," said Nobel.

Ken Sarson lives Burlington and works in Hamilton and said he wanted to stand up as an individual and talk with people about what he'd like to see in his country and for his community. He said he wasn't affiliated with any group on Sunday.

Ken Sarson lives in Burlington and works in Hamilton. He says he wanted to stand up as an individual and talk with people about what he’d like to see in his country and for his community. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

"You see an anarchist demonstration on the street the other day. You see ultra-nationalist organizations coming together on the right," said Sarson. "I wanted to stand up and say something to be here for the middle guy — be part of the evolution for a positive change."

McMaster University political science student, Hunter Blue, says he was at the demonstration as an observer.

He says the "attack" on Locke Street was symbolic attack on more spiritual elements of "our physical condtions."

"There's been a global shift in neoliberalism, everyone knows what that term means, everyone knows the implications of it — and this attack on Locke Street was essentially a retaliation to that on a ideological and spiritual level made manifest physically," said Blue. 

"You can't divorce the ideas and the emotions from the physicalities and the actual conditions that people live in."

Large police presence

Police said earlier in the week that they were going to be 'highly visible' during the protest and counterprotest.

Police say they attended the area of the demonstration shortly before 11 a.m. in the areas of Victoria Park and Locke Street with the action, mounted and public order units. 

Waterloo Regional Police and Toronto Police Service were also on hand to assist Hamilton police.

"Hamilton police are very proud of our community and thank everyone for their patience and understanding during the demonstration," said a statement from police.

Hamilton police say they were in the areas of Victoria Park and Locke Street in Hamilton shortly before 11 a.m. The Toronto Police Service and Waterloo Regional Police were also on hand to assist Hamilton police. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

The demonstration comes just weeks after a mob of vandals went on a rampage on Locke Street in the Kirkendall neighbourhood  — setting off fireworks, damaging vehicles and throwing rocks at store windows — causing an estimated $100,000 of damage. 

Beth Paulin works at Textures Craftworks on Locke Street. She says the store wasn't hit by vandals a few weeks ago, but the shop made preparations in anticipation of potential vandalism.

Along with having extra staff on hand, she said they moved glass and breakables from the windows.

Paulin was pleased the demonstration didn't make its way up Locke Street and didn't cause damage.

Paulin says she understands gentrification and how it has become a "big issue," but says, "you can't stop progress on the other hand, so I don't think this is the way to go about doing this, by throwing rocks in people's windows."

laura.clementson@cbc.ca

About the Author

Laura Clementson is a journalist with CBC News. She can be reached at laura.clementson@cbc.ca. Follow Laura on Twitter @LauraClementson.