Canada Police arrest suspect in Hamilton, Ont. vandalism spree

21:46  06 april  2018
21:46  06 april  2018 Source:   Toronto Star

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A group of masked protesters carrying a banner reading, © Provided by Toronto Star A group of masked protesters carrying a banner reading, "We Are the Ungovernable" marches down Locke Street on March 3

Hamilton, Ont. police have charged a man they say is the operator of the anarchist collective, The Tower, in connection with the vandalism spree on Locke Street last month.

Peter Hopperton, 31, is charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

He's expected to appear in bail court Friday afternoon.

"We believe that he was taking part in (the March 3 vandalism)," Deputy Chief Dan Kinsella said during a news conference announcing the arrest Friday morning.

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Several small business owners and residents in a popular Hamilton neighbourhood awoke to find their windows smashed and vehicles damaged after police said a mob of about 30 people went on a vandalism spree late Saturday night.

However, he declined to say what exactly Hopperton's alleged role was, saying the case is before the court.

"We believe that the individual is the operator of The Tower."

On March 3 a masked mob of about 30, dressed in black marched down Locke throwing rocks at cars and businesses and lighting fireworks. They caused about $100,000 damage.

Police previously said the group, which carried a banner that read: We Are The Ungovernable, was linked to the Hamilton Anarchist Book Fair that took place a few blocks away that weekend.

The vandalism rampage sparked an outpouring of support for small business owners on Locke.

The incident has been roundly denounced by politicians, with Hamilton city councillors voting to formally condemn the vandalism. During the council meeting Mayor Fred Eisenberger called the group "terrorists" and Coun. Terry Whitehead said police should label the anarchists "a gang."

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An anonymous poster on a Facebook site linked to The Tower, however, said the local anarchist collective did not organize the vandalism, but supports the tactic as a protest to gentrification in the city.

"The ongoing effects of gentrification in this city are heartbreaking — waves of displacement, growing violence, and intensifying poverty," the post reads, later adding, "We have zero tears to shed for Locke Street."

Two weeks ago there were duelling protests in the neighbourhood sparked by the events.

One was billed as a "Patriot Walk on Locke" and included far-right groups and appeared to include anti-immigration groups such as Soldiers of Odin, The Proud Boys and the Ontario Northern Guard. This sparked a counterprotest by Hamiltonians Against Fascism.

Hamilton police worked to keep the groups separate and no one was hurt or arrested.

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