The Spec: Hamilton councillors approve 'zero tolerance for violence' in wake of Locke St. vandalism
by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News
Hamilton councillors called the black-clad individuals who caused $100,000 in damage during their Locke Street violent march March 3 almost every name in the book from “gutless cowards” to “lousy punks” as they pleaded for city-wide unity.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger said the incident, where about 30 masked individuals paraded along Locke Street, March 3 shooting off fireworks, and throwing rocks and eggs at buildings while carrying a sign “the ungovernables,” an “act of terrorism.”
“They are a terrorist gang,” said Eisenberger. “They can ply their anarchy in jail.”
Hamilton police, who had two vehicles on Locke Street March 8, are continuing their investigation. No charges have been laid, and no identifiable people have taken credit for the incident.
The police said they believe the vandalism was connected to an anarchist book fair held the same day at Westdale Secondary School.
The Tower, a local anarchist social space, recently stated on Facebook it wasn’t involved, but that it supported the activity that took place on Locke Street.
Eisenberger said in an interview politicians are looking to the police to bring the individuals to justice.
“Our job is to shore up the psyche of the community,” he said. “Hopefully, we can stamp (the fear) out.”
Politicians unanimously endorsed a zero tolerance for violence in Hamilton motion introduced by Mountain Coun. Donna Skelly, who said councillors need to “stand united” on behalf of the community and businesses across the city.
“I love this city,” said Skelly. (The residents) have built a tolerant, inclusive, diverse economy. Violence simply cannot be tolerated.”
An outraged Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson said there is “no place in our society for faceless, gutless cowards, lousy punks (and) a bunch of hooligans. We have to stand united.”
Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead, who is also a member of the Hamilton Police Board, said he will ask police to designate the group who perpetrated the violence, as a gang.
“They should be treated as such,” said Whitehead. “Some individuals are a waste of skin.”
Ward 1 Coun. Aidan Johnson, who represents the area, appreciated the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of the attack. Johnson, who lives near Locke Street, said he has “felt fear, anger and sadness” since the incident.
“Locke Street is my home. Locke Street is my neighbourhood,” said Johnson. “Glass was shatter, but love has proven unbreakable.”
Hamilton will be celebrating #LoveLockeDay March 10 to support the street’s local businesses.
Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla, while condemning the violence, said businesses and residents were the original target of these self-describe anarchists. He said businesses also have been subjected to property damage for months. He indicated it took the violence along Locke Street to get the community to take action against people who have been causing the property damage.
“We were the original targets,” he said.
Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green, while he supported the motion, wanted to do more than approve a symbolic message to the community. He said small business owners deserve action.
After some wrangling with his colleagues, he introduced a motion, approved by councillors, to circulate the zero tolerance motion, along with information about how businesses can access city grants to help make repairs to their properties to all business improvement areas.
He said Ottawa Street businesses have been experiencing “ongoing” property damage, arsons and graffiti taggings.
- March 9 2018