A Hamilton police cruiser is featured in this file photo. (Andrew Collins)

Hamilton police have charged 18 people who allegedly refused to leave the lobby of city hall after an hours-long demonstration Wednesday afternoon.

According to a news release, police were called to city hall on Main Street around 4:30 p.m. after a group of six people refused to leave the building lobby after business hours.

Investigators say the group said they would not leave the premises until they were granted a meeting with Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

The demonstrators were part of Defund HPS, a group calling on officials to defund the Hamilton Police Service and invest the tax dollars into affordable housing and fighting issues such as food insecurity, and racism.

Police said that throughout the evening the group grew to 19 individuals.

“The group was warned they would be arrested and charged with trespassing if they did not leave,” police said in the news release. “They were eventually arrested, charged and released under the Trespass to Property Act – Fail to Leave Premises when Directed (Section) 2 (1)(b), which is a $65 total payable fine.”

Defund HPS livestreamed much of the activity at city hall on its Twitter account, saying the mayor offered to meet privately with two members of the group, but would not interact with them publicly.

The group is expected to release a statement shortly about the events, but said on social media that “everyone is safe.”

Update: everyone is safe. We will release a statement soon. Head to Instagram to watch queer racialized story telling. #DefundThePolice #HamOnt #onpoli #canpoli https://t.co/cw5U48lNlu

— Defund HPS (@DefundHPS) December 3, 2020