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Power out as blockade comes down, goes back up

James Cowan - with files from Katie Rook, CanWest News Service
National Post
Published: Tuesday, May 23, 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.]

Riot police were called to Caledonia last night to control angry townspeople gathering at the site of a new Six Nations blockade occupying the town's main road.

OPP riot police lined up to face hundreds of Caledonia residents, whom earlier had attacked police with glass, rocks and hockey sticks, Sergeant Dave Rektor said.

Aboriginal protesters had erected the fresh barrier following a violent confrontation with townspeople hours after they had dismantled the original barricade, erected last month.

Thousands in Caledonia were without power last night after a hydro tower was downed.

Some townspeople who had gathered at the protest site accused natives of knocking out the power supply, but officials could not confirm the source of the disruption.

Former Ontario premier and provincial negotiator David Peterson travelled to the site last night in a bid to calm tensions.

Members of the Six Nations Confederacy had removed their blockade early yesterday morning. A spokeswoman said the group had cleared the road as a "sign of good faith" in response to the Ontario government's announcement last Wednesday that no new construction would be allowed on a parcel of land claimed by natives, provided negotiators continued to make progress on a settlement. But the blockade was down for less than three hours.

A fight with local residents prompted its return, Six Nations spokeswoman Janie Jamieson said. "The barricade's back up, and it's a little bit more fortified than it was before," she said.

Townspeople had erected their own barrier this weekend to limit natives' use of Highway 6. "It was far too convenient for them to have full access to the road while we suffered," said Steve Tong, a Caledonia resident.

Despite removing the fence at the request of Ontario Provincial Police, residents continued to block traffic.

Yesterday's confrontation began when residents blocked a red pickup truck driven by a Six Nations member.

"People didn't want to let it through," Tong said. "Everyone was hot and mad and dealing with the issue at hand."

The driver responded by "jumping forward" in an apparent attempt to "scare people," Tong said.

But Jamieson said residents surrounded the truck for 15 minutes and broke its windows. When Six Nations members attempted to free the truck, a scuffle erupted between the two sides. Numerous punches were thrown and several people suffered cuts and bloody noses.

After the fight, Six Nations members once again blocked Highway 6, this time using a fallen electrical tower.

Jamieson refused to speculate on when the protesters would consider removing the barricade again.

Tong called for federal intervention. "I don't know if that means military action -- it might be warranted at this point," he said.

The standoff began on Feb. 28, when the Six Nations Confederacy occupied a 40-hectare subdivision, claiming the tract of land was part of their territory and had been illegally sold.

Police raided the site on April 20 and arrested 16 people, prompting the blockade.

Premier Dalton McGuinty condemned today's confrontation and urged calm and goodwill in Caledonia. "The confrontation we saw today has no place in our society -- and it does nothing to help resolve this difficult situation....We must continue working to find common ground."

Peterson told CBC yesterday he remains hopeful the dispute will be resolved soon."Hopefully we can get through this in a peaceful way and start a peaceful, meaningful engagement in some of these issues," the former premier said.

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