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The Other Side
May 12, 2006
The Propellant looks like the size of the ink refill cartridge you might use in your printer, but these cartridges have long wires, nearly 20 yards, attached to them with long menacing looking barbed needles on the other.
They are called Tasers and once they sink into your skin - the officer presses the trigger and sends 50,000 volts of electric charge into your nervous system.
The darts stay in the person thanks to the barbed end much like a fish hook. The person that is shot by these needles is completely immobilized.
Sean couldn't stand by and let 5 police officers grapple with his Step mother, Hazel Hill who was now on the ground struggling to avoid being hurt.
This was how Thursday April 20th started out for the First Nations people en-camped on the barren grounds of the Douglas Creek Development.
The night before, police has reassured Clyde Powless from the Haudenosaunee nation, no police action would be taken as long as talks were going on, that a warning would be given before any mass arrests would start, and no police would storm the camp site during night.
None of those words meant anything then, as the First Nations People have experienced generation after generation. The white man's word was not to be trusted.
When the OPP did storm into the Camp up in Caledonia, the ratio was at least five officers for each person, most of whom were asleep during the 4:30 take down.
By the time Hazel Hill managed to return to the camp site and call me on her cell phone, dawn had just broken. Her call to me was short and expectedly frantic. Then there was nothing.
I could not get an answer when I dialed back. I didn't know it was because she was being pinned to the ground under the weight of five OPP officers, and her son was being tasered.
First I called Dick Hill, Hazels' husband at his home and told him about Hazel's call. Then I quickly started calling all the media people I could think of to say that the camp standoff in Caledonia was being raided.
Some of the main stream press had been camped out in their vans for weeks before this raid, waiting for a moment like this one. Others had to be "coaxed" to make the drive into Caledonia.
One CBC television reporter was on her cell phone to me mapping out in her head what she assumed was happening. She concluded, like most of the press had concluded, that the natives had been arrested and cleared off the site.
She was wrong. As I watched live coverage being broadcast from the Global/CH11 mobile van, I saw something you rarely expect to see in a native land standoff.
The phone calls were working. Numbers of First Nations people were streaming into the campsite carrying flags. Calmly and peacefully they walked into the camp grounds and turned the police around, walked them out of the camp and down Argyle St. heading North.
It was a beautiful thing to see. I had forgotten I was still on the phone with the CBC reporter who kept saying "the Police had moved all the Indians off the site" into my ear. "No" I kept repeating, "the Indians are slowly and quietly pushing the Police off the site."
This was obviously not what most reporters expect to hear. In all of the past land claims issues natives have not managed to peacefully repel the police - after a major raid.
This was history I was watching and now describing to the reporter in a mobile van rushing to the location. All different members of First Nations people were banding and standing together and gracefully taking back their land.
I remember feeling a sense of respect and pride watching this act of grace and commitment, when only a hour before I was fearing the worse would happen, like the Ipperwash stand off - or OKA.
The CBC reporter was surprised as well and it took me a few repeats of the live news cast I was watching to convince her that something wonderful was happening.
By the time I had called as many press people as I could think of, and get myself up to the site it was just past 9 am. The press were everywhere, like a swarm of bees.
The first person I sought out was writer from the local Teckawan Six Nations news paper. I wanted to find Hazel Hill and see if she was all right. We were allowed across the new barrier now sitting across Hwy. #6 or locally known as plank road, escorted by the Techawan reporter, to a truck with the back hatch dropped down.
There surrounded by a mass of press sat Hazel, calmly and with grace, telling again and again what had just happened.
Satisfied, the press drifted off to find someone else to swarm. I stayed to do my own interview with Hazel and then some young girls came over with their hands full of tangled wire.
They carefully laid out the taser cartridges - the mess of wire - and the huge barbed needles on the black carpet of the trucks dropped door gate and from nowhere the press flocked back like seagulls pushing and shoving to get shots of the vicious looking stun gun bullets.
It has been three weeks now since the day the OPP rushed in, which led to the road being barricaded. I have yet to see a published picture of the taser weapon used to shoot Hazel's son in the back, in order to prevent him from coming to her aid.
The only media that shows the true amount of police force used that day is the independent media. They have no corporate agenda, except to show to the world what the Natives were really facing.
That's why the road is blocked. No other reason - except to protect themselves from further violence.
Later that same day I wandered around the development and watched moms on their front yards sunbathing, while their little girls played in front of the police vans.
So many vans - at least 12 from my count, and I wondered how many of them were hiding automatic weapons behind the heavily smoked windows.
Video footage accompanying this report is available via Autonomy & Solidarity