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Angry Caledonians blast horns

Heavy police presence ready for further protests against native blockade

Hayley Mick and Kate Harries
Globe and Mail
April 29, 2006

[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 -- Posters and rumours about a rally against a native blockade drew an extraordinary police presence -- and dozens of spectators -- to the edge of a Southwestern Ontario town last night.

Provincial police assembled in Caledonia, 30 kilometres south of Hamilton, after rumours spread that hundreds of protesters would march against natives from the Six Nations Reserve who have been occupying a housing development since Feb. 28.

By nightfall, no violence had erupted, only the blasts of horns and the angry voices of hundreds of local residents who said it's time to end the blockade.

"It's not right what they're doing. They're holding us hostage," seven-year Caledonia resident Shelley Lambert said.

"Don't let no Indians through that door," shouted one man at a crowded Tim Hortons last night.

Another waved a Canadian flag outside, saying, "I'm proud of my country, I'm proud of my race, I'm proud of my town."

Many said they were frustrated by the constant police presence, lost business revenue, detours and the town's damaged reputation.

Others blasted the provincial and federal governments for not stepping in.

A similar rally on Monday drew 2,000 people, about 500 of whom headed to the barricade afterward to yell insults at police and aboriginal occupiers.

By 7 p.m. yesterday, police had set up three lines along Highway 6. About 400 metres from the blockade, they stopped all vehicles;about 200 metres closer, officers watched curious onlookers; and about 20 metres from the blockade, 25 police officers stood in front of a line of cruisers and prevented anyone from approaching protesters.

More officers could be seen sitting in large vans parked by a nearby shopping plaza where the rally was supposed to take place. Later, two yellow school buses filled with OPP officers joined them. There was also a large van with police dogs.

"Safe to say we have enough officers on duty to deal with any emergency," said Sergeant Dave Rektor, a spokesman for the OPP.

"It's the calm before the storm. Something's going to come down," said Celena Mair, who made the two-hour drive from Sarnia after hearing a radio report about the planned rally.

Jeff McGinness drove from Brantford with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchild. They were "waiting for the circus," he said.

Inside the blockade, it was "business as usual," said Janie Jamieson, a spokeswoman for the protesters.

She said the natives were aware of the rally rumours and police presence, but hoped for a peaceful protest.

"Under the Canadian Constitution, they have the right to peaceful assembly," she said. "We're exercising our right, too."

Earlier, after an in camera meeting on the Six Nations issue, Haldimand County deputy mayor Tom Patterson expressed the hope that the rally would be peaceful.

Organizers of Monday's rally said they had nothing to do with last night's event, which was publicized in a flyer of anonymous origin.

"I'm worried about it," Ken Hewitt said yesterday afternoon. He said he didn't want anything to jeopardize talks, where he said he heard that trust is being built between the various parties, and which he hoped would lead soon to the reopening of the highway.

Cayuga subchief Leroy Hill said he was optimistic the talks between Canada, Ontario and Six Nations will produce a positive outcome "if the government keeps their word. We've had some good words."

There was a break in talks on Wednesday to allow working groups to tackle a number of issues, including the removal of the blockades from Argyle Street South and the Highway 6 bypass.

Mr. Hill said he hoped next week to see the federal and provincial governments follow through on an undertaking to appoint negotiators with real authority. "Main table" talks are to resume May 5.

Meanwhile, police suggested businesses consider closing early because of the rally. Mike Wekking, the manager of a Canadian Tire store that adjoins the police line preventing people from reaching the Six Nations barricade, said he would follow police advice to ensure the safety of his employees.

Six Nations protesters have occupied the Douglas Creek Estate site since Feb. 28. It is part of land given to them for fighting with the British in the American War of Independence and they say they never sold it.

Kate Harries is a freelance writer

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