On June 15, they moved to Gage Park in the city’s east end, where the annual Pride festival was taking place. During the last few Hamilton Pride festivals, an American evangelical group has used megaphones and large banners to shame sexual minorities. They have a circuit, showing up at small town Pride festivals throughout Southern Ontario. Evangelical churches in the U.S. raise funds for this caravan, which is similar to the ties the Yellow Vests have to Ontario Proud, an organization funded mostly by developers and construction companies.
The Yellow Vests’ connection to the evangelical cause was based on their mutual belief that trans people are responsible for the downfall of Western civilization. The Pride festival included radical queers and anarchists, some more pacifist than others, as well as families and queer folks looking for a low-key good time. When all those groups came together, the result was volatile. A group of queer activists surrounded the evangelicals and the Yellow Vests, blocking their messages with a black curtain. The Yellow Vests and evangelicals went from yelling to physical assaults, and a white nationalist started swinging his helmet around. The police, who later said they refused to help because they were not allowed to recruit, stood by, watching the chaos unfold. There were no serious injuries, luckily.
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The assaults were recorded by activists with cell phone cameras and distributed through private networks and social media. There were Facebook posts, private messages and groups asking for more video evidence. Reporters from the Hamilton Spectator and the police also wanted the footage. The police and the Spec did not have the same network as the left, however, and chose to investigate the Pride activists instead. Though they did not ignore the far right, the coverage could be considered uneven. The initial arrests of Pride activists reflected this connecting of media, local government and law enforcement.