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RCMP now on the scene in Caledonia

Daniel Nolan
Hamilton Spectator
Friday, April 21, 2006 | Updated at 3:31 PM EDT

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

CALEDONIA -- The RCMP are now helping the OPP keep an eye on a volatile native protest that has virtually cut the town of Caledonia in half.

The presence of officers this morning from the national police force comes 24 hours after a police raid on a housing project that protesters say lies on native land. The occupation, entering its 53rd day, has spilled off Douglas Creek Estates and has seen the protesters block the Highway 6 bypass and Argyle Street South.

RCMP Inspector Vic Josey from Toronto visited the OPP lines in front of the protest barricades for an early morning briefing from OPP officers.

Asked by The Spectator how many RCMP officers are in Caledonia, Josey said "We have a few."

The protest area was quiet for much of the night after hundreds of Caledonia residents and masked natives stared down each other last night, separated only by 50 metres on Argyle Street, just north of Douglas Creek Estates. New talks are set to begin this morning in Brantford between the Six Nations Confederacy, the province and Ottawa to try and find a peaceful resolution to the occupation.

OPP Deputy Commissioner Maurice Pilon said yesterday the OPP had no immediate plans to enter the site and arrest protesters violating a court injunction ordering them off the site. However, half a dozen buses could be seen parked behind Seneca Unity School, which is in the north of Caledonia and has been renamed by the Haldimand Reclamation Command Post. It's not known if the buses brought police officers in or may have been slated to take protesters away.

Natives are calling the protest a land reclamation because they say it is property Six Nations never surrendered, but was stolen from them. Canada and Ontario, however, say the land was surrendered and sold in 1841 to help build the Plank Road (Highway 6).

While calm had returned to the scene, there is still evidence of frustration and tension over the affair. One man hollered angry comments this morning at four OPP officers standing by a cruiser at the police perimeter line.

"Hey, you guys what's the matter with you," he said. "You guys are standing around like a bunch of bozos. At least clear the road so we can get on with our lives."

The protesters dumped three large piles of gravel on Argyle Street to block traffic, but were allowing emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks through. This morning, just after daybreak, four fire trucks sped into the native blockade to check out a report of a barn fire at a farm directly across the road from the housing project. The trucks were held up for a few moments, but were allowed to proceed.

When they came back to return to the fire station, one masked protester told a firefighter behind the wheel that next time just let them know it's an emergency and they can proceed pass through with no trouble.

"They keep pushing us," the protester, referring to police, told a few dozen people milling around the barricade. "They got the media right there. We have to let emergency vehicles through. There's enough of us now that three or four emergency vehicles is nothing if they are trying to pull something. We're keeping the police out of here."

One group of unexpected visitors to the protest site last night were the Hells Angels. At about 11 p.m., a half dozen roared up to the native barricade just as the mass of TV trucks spilling over into the parking lot of The Canadian Tire were beginning their live reports on the Caledonia standoff.

A protester later told The Spectator the visit by the notorious motorcyclists -- with their patches proclaiming Hells Angels Ontario -- stunned them. But she said one man on a motorcycle yelled, "Don't move. Don't move. We're on your side."

The Angels revved their engines a few times and then turned around and left, heading in the direction of Hamilton.

The occupation drew the curious, even into the small hours of the morning. Kelly Muir, 19, Rachel Binek, 17, and Rob Weatherstone, 21, found a piece of grass in front of the nearby Tim Hortons, sat down and covered themselves with a sleeping bag. They planned to stay the entire night to see if there might be another police raid on the site, but left after a few hours.

They weren't too impressed with the standoff and, like many Caledonia residents, wished the authorities would close it down permanently.

"They're closing our town down over this," said Muir. "People are scared in this town."

She said she has a lot of friends from Six Nations and they do not support the occupation. "They think it's ridiculous," she said.

It was hard to determine how many people were behind the barricades. One protester said there were about 1,000 people while another said there were about 300.

Dawn Smith, working at a barricade some call 'The Back Door' because it is behind the Canadian Tire, said Thursday's OPP raid has instilled in her a determination not to give up.

Asked if trust has been broken because of the OPP raid, and that might make the talks unproductive, Smith said, "In my personal opinion, the trust was never there in the first place. It was expected (the raid). Whether they can redeem themselves it's entirely up to them."

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