Experts say the City of Hamilton overstepped its authority when on Tuesday, it ordered the removal of an anarchist symbol, the circle-A, from a local building.
The city told CBC the symbol was considered “hate material” similar to the swastika.
“To apply the label ‘hate speech’ to a symbol like this and to compare it to a swastika is to completely misunderstand hate speech laws,” said Richard Moon, law professor at the University of Windsor.
Moon said that hate speech and hate propaganda fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
“The city is not the enforcer of the criminal code ban on hate speech,” he said. “Normally, the police would lay charges, there would be prosecution and the prosecution would only happen with the consent of the attorney general
“I think it’s a challenge or an attack on what is really called political speech,” continued Moon.
The building, dubbed “The Tower,” is a local anarchist social centre. What prompted the organization to board up their windows began in March—a group of approximately 30 individuals calling themselves “The Ungovernables” walked down a popular strip in the city setting off fireworks and breaking windows. The mob inflicted $100,000 in property damages.
Two days later, The Tower was vandalized by “far right goons,” according to a Facebook message posted by the organization’s Facebook page.
The Tower promptly boarded up its windows and spray painted the phrase “We are not in the least afraid of ruins, for we carry a new world here in our hearts.”
As well, it spray painted the circle-A anarchy symbol.
City officials told CBC “the anarchist symbol is considered hate material by the City of Hamilton and Hamilton Police Services and as such, must be removed.”
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