Protesters chanting in the Hamilton City Council Chamber during a February 4, 2023 disruption of the budget delegations meeting. Credit: Joey Coleman

Over 100 protesters took over the Council Chambers Monday night, interrupting public delegations with demands that Council vote down the proposed 6.71 percent police budget increase.

The protest was organized by the Hamilton Encampment Support Network.

HESN member Sabreina Dahab began the protest by yelling from the back row of the public gallery, “this is a peaceful demonstration, and we will not leave until you hear us.”

Dahab protested in a personal capacity. Dahab is the Ward 2 Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Trustee.

Sabreina Dahab leads protesters in reading their demands during a disruption of the February 4, 2023, Hamilton City Council meeting.

Dahab then led the protesters in “reading our demands together.”

Ward 9 City Councillor Brad Clark requested the protesters come to order and allow the remaining delegates the opportunity to speak.

The protest continued.

“This General Issues Committee meeting stands in recess and we ask the gallery please,” Clark began.

Dehab responded they were not leaving “until Council votes against the police budget.”

This began an hour-long stand-off as councillors sat in the horseshoe.

The protesters chanted, heckled, and demanded individual councillors “represent us” by promising to vote down the police budget.

Chants included: “No Justice, No Peace,” “If we don’t get it, we won’t go,” “Defund or Resign, Defund or Resign,” and “Defund, Disarm, Dismantle, Abolish.”

Every few minutes, Clark would remind the protesters the meeting was in recess and repeat the request for them to leave.

[Listen to audio clips from the protest]

Protesters asked each councillor in the room to promise to vote against the police budget.

They were met with silence until Ward 2 Councillor Cameron Kroestch confirmed his continuing opposition to the police budget increase.

Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann, Ward 4 Councillor Tammy Hwang, and Ward 13 Councillor Alex Wilson also committed to voting against the budget.

Ward 11 Councillor Mark Tadeson told the crowd he will listen further before deciding his vote on the police budget.

Tadeson stated support for the police during the Police Chief’s January 11, 2023, presentation.

The back and forth, the chanting, and the calls for order continued for over an hour before Councillor

A protester gives Ward 2 Councillor Cameron Kroetsch two thumbs up as he leaves the Council Chamber.

Clark declared the meeting over, and further delegations were cancelled.

The remaining councillors left the Chamber.

Kroestch, Tadeson, and Wilson remained for a few minutes before leaving.

Dahab addressed the crowd, saying their protest was “successful” and they “will come back again and again” until Council votes down the police budget.

The protesters then left City Hall as a group.

Council’s tentative budget schedule has the police budget debate scheduled for February 21.

Protesters leave City Hall after City Council adjourned its public budget delegations due to protest disruption

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Published: February 6, 2023
Last edited: February 6, 2023
Author: Joey Coleman
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