City order to remove anarchist symbol was ‘improper’
City of Hamilton is backtracking on its ordered removal of a circle-A symbol from a local anarchist meeting space.
After forcing The Tower to remove the symbol from its building on Cannon Street East in March because they reportedly considered it “hate material,” the city said Thursday the bylaw order to have the “graffiti” removed was “improper.”
In a response that took more than a day to produce, the city said the bylaw order was “improper in terms of exceeding the scope of its bylaw, which is intended primarily to address property damage and maintenance, and not content of signage.”
The bylaw order came just over a week after an anti-gentrification vandalism spree on Locke Street South, which police have said was connected to an Anarchist Book Fair, as well as The Tower. A masked mob of about 30 people in black clothing marched up the street, throwing rocks at cars and businesses, breaking windows, and lighting fireworks, ultimately causing about $100,000 in damage.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who originally backed the city staff decision to classify the anarchist circle-A a hate symbol, also reneged on that position Thursday. He said in a statement that his earlier comments were based on the belief that city bylaws had been appropriately applied.
“Stemming from the senseless acts of violence and vandalism in our City, my comments were a reaction that hate speech, and the acts of violence, have no place in the City of Hamilton,” the statement reads. “With additional information, it is clear the anarchy symbols is not a hate symbol and efforts are being undertaken to immediately upThe date staff training.”
The CBC reported earlier this week that a city spokesperson said the City of Hamilton and Hamilton police consider the anarchist symbol to be “hate material” and that’s why they ordered its removal. But Hamilton police have said they don’t consider the circle-A to be a “hate crime symbol.”
According to the statement from the city, they will be updating staff training for municipal law enforcement officers. The city said it will communicate with Hamilton police as part of that update “with a focus on seeking police assistance or review over concern with matters potentially related to criminal activity.” The statement said the municipal law enforcement officer was acting “in accordance with their training” when they issued the order to remove the symbol from a sign.
The city did not answer additional questions before deadline Thursday, including what training the officer acted in accordance with, where the direction to remove the graffiti came from and what updates will be made to training.