Three charged in ‘disruptive’ ceasefire protests in Hamilton
Published January 22, 2024 at 11:01 am
The women have been charged after a “disruptive” protest calling for a ceasefire in Gaza set a barrel a blaze and blocked a Waterdown street.
The protest was held at L3Harris, an aerospace and defence company, with a building on Leavitt Blvd back in November. Hamilton Police described the protest as “marked by road blockages, scattered debris, and a burning steel drum.” This prompted a thorough investigation, police continued. The main entrance to the building was splashed with red paint.
Ultimately three protestors from Hamilton were arrested; Patricia Mills, 39, Sahra Soudi, 26, and Victoria Wojciechowska, 27. All three have been charged with mischief under $5,000 and disguise with intent.
Advocacy group Hamilton4Palestine, a self-described “grassroots organization dedicated to engaging the Palestinian diaspora, the oppressed voices and the fight for freedom,” organized the event. “L3Harris profits from, and is directly implicated, in the attacks on Palestine as well as the repression of those involved in Indigenous, anti-colonial, and anti-imperialist struggles,” the group said in an Instagram post.
According to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, L3Harris “specializes in surveillance solutions, microwave weaponry and electronic warfare and produces command and control systems and products, wireless equipment, tactical radios, avionics and electronics systems and night vision equipment, among other things.” The company employs some 50,000 and makes an estimated $17 billion in annual revenue through its operations in 100 countries.
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Hostilities between Israel and Palestine erupted into full-scale war again on Oct. 7. The designated terrorist group Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2005, launched a surprise attack on Israel. The strike hit several civilian locations including suburban neighbourhoods and a concert. The attack claimed 1,139 Israeli lives, including more than 700 civilians.
The Israeli government responded with a full-scale declaration of war. In the wake of the Hamas attack, Israel began a heavy air bombing campaign in Gaza, a city of two million people half of whom are children. Weeks later the Israeli Defence Force invaded the city. Additionally, Israel, which occupied Gaza from 1967-2005 and still controls imports, cut off most of the supply of food, water, electricity and medicines.
So far, the conflict has resulted in the death of nearly 25,300 Palestinians and more than 1,400 Israelis. Nearly the entire population of Gaza has been displaced.
The events in the Levant have sparked protests and incidents around the world. Closer to home, McMaster University has been under fire for comments made by staff and Hamilton Centre MP Sarah Jama was censured and kicked out of the NDP caucus for her comments on the war.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network has reported on a Canada-wide rise in hate incidents since the war broke out. Toronto Police reported a 45 per cent jump in hate crime in 2023 compared to the year before. Roughly a quarter of these incidents came after Oct. 7 and half were anti-semitic. While these incidents are increasing, the protest at L3Harris is not one of them.
Hamilton has taken steps to protect community faith-based spaces including emergency funding for security for several organizations.
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