Hamilton Police Complies with Nearly All Recommendations of the 2019 Pride Report

By Nathan Sager

Posted on September 23, 2022 at 4:54 pm

A final update on changes made by Hamilton Police since failing to protect the Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA+ community from far-right violence includes an acknowledgment that building trust requires more than ticking boxes.

On Friday, following a police services board meeting, Hamilton Police (HPS) issued a final update on the Bergman Report, which is the list of 38 recommendations attorney Scott Bergman composed during an independent review ordered after violence at the 2019 Hamilton Pride event in Gage Park. . HPS says it has achieved 92 percent of the recommendations intended to help foster a stronger relationship with Hamilton’s 2S and LGBTQIA communities. That results in 35 of 38; some could not be completed until in-person Pride events returned from a COVID-19 hiatus.

“We know it will take time to build a relationship of trust,” HPS Chief Frank Bergen said Friday. “We are committed to working hard to better understand the trauma of the 2S and LGBTQIA communities through honest, supportive and respectful dialogue.”

In June 2019, a group of counter-protesters, including some with white nationalist ties, attacked Pride 2019 attendees. That November, the HPSB appointed Bergman, a criminal defense attorney of the law firm Cooper, Sandler, Schime & Bergman LLP, to lead an independent review of HPS’s response.

The review, published in June 2020, found that HPS’s preparations and response during and after Pride were “inadequate.” He also recommended “unequivocal” apologies, which were issued shortly after by then-Chief Eric Girt and the HPSB.

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Leaders of Pride Hamilton have filed a human rights complaint against the city.

In consulting and research work, Bergman was hired by many Hamiltonians who came forward with experiences of discriminatory policing.

“The experience of being over-surveilled and unprotected is all too common among those who are part of racialised, two-spirited, LGBTQIA+ and other minority communities,” he wrote in the Bergman Report.

Since 2020, Hamilton Police has created a 2S and LGBTQIA Liaison Officer position. He also conducted a diversity audit, created in-depth seminars on 2S and LGBTQIA topics, and wrote policies and procedures for operational planning. (The Bergman Report confirmed that there was an operating plan, or OP, for Pride 2019.)

HPS also worked with McMaster University on a Survey of LGBTQIA+ and Two-Spirit Communities to gather information on the criteria for a facilitator to lead future Town Halls and community meetings.

“While many of these recommendations are marked complete, they do not indicate the end of our work,” said HPS Deputy Chief Eric Diodati. “We will continue to incorporate 2S and LGBTQIA topics into our training to ensure we are constantly building our understanding of diversity and inclusion.”

Like most community festivals in Hamilton, Pride returned this summer after a two-year absence due to the pandemic. The official event was held July 8-9 at the Hamilton Convention Center, and organizers said they chose to move indoors to increase accessibility and security.

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