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Protest spurs police action

OPP investigations may result in variety of criminal charges

Paul Legall
Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (Jun 3, 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.]

The OPP has launched numerous criminal investigations relating to the occupation of Douglas Creek Estates, including activities on an adjacent hydro right of way and the blockade of a rail line.

OPP spokesperson Constable Paula Wright said investigators are also looking at the origin of materials used to build barricades, including railway ties and sections of hydro towers.

Wright said a variety of criminal charges could result, including kidnapping; assault with a weapon; break, enter and theft; arson; and mischief endangering human life, plus non-criminal charges such as trespassing.

She said the investigation also involves a small encampment established at the base of a partially constructed hydro tower. Somebody placed a wooden platform at the top of the metal structure and erected five native flags.

The tower is near the Sixth Line overpass next to the Highway 6 bypass and part of a new Hydro One power line under construction.

The iconic native unity flag -- bearing a warrior's profile on a dramatic yellow and red back ground -- is also flying almost 30 metres above the ground atop of two other new towers south of the 40-hectare Douglas Creek subdivision.

The hydro line, which crosses the Grand River near Caledonia, will transfer electrical power from Thorold to the Brantford area. It was expected to be completed early this summer, but a Hydro One spokesperson said construction has stopped because workers are unable to enter the site.

Wright said police are also investigating the blockade of a rail line near the reserve and the occupation site. Railink Canada Ltd. obtained an injunction May 4 to have two barriers removed from the track and to prevent protesters from interfering with railway operations. Railink lawyer Ken Peel told a judge this week the company hasn't been able to use the track since April 20 and laid off nine of its 45 workers.

Wright said police are also investigating more than a million dollars in damage caused when somebody drove a vehicle into a hydro station on Argyle Street South and set a transformer on fire. The action caused a power blackout as far away as Delhi.

Wright wouldn't say which charges would be laid in relation to specific incidents, but confirmed previous reports that they were looking into allegations of theft, arson and violence in relation to the protest. She was careful not to point the finger at any person or to identify suspects as natives or non-natives.

This week, a Hamilton Spectator photographer took pictures of a man walking out of one of the houses under construction at Douglas Street Estates, and of a tent inside another house.

Michael Bruder, a lawyer for Henco Industries, had earlier told the media that about $100,000 worth of property was stolen when his client's office on the site was ransacked on April 20.

In recent weeks, the protesters have moved their main encampment from the Argyle Street entrance to an area near the houses. They've also allegedly used bricks from the site to build a footpath among the houses.

Janie Jamieson, a spokesperson for the protesters, said the rail line and hydro right of way are part of Six Nations land that was never sold or surrendered. She said the encampment near the Sixth Line bypass was erected as a shelter for protesters who were operating a military-style checkpoint until about two weeks ago. As far as she knew, the platform on the hydro tower was used only to hang flags.

"I've never seen anybody up there. I have no idea who's staying there," she said. "This is our territory. We do have the right to occupy our territory."

Historically, she added, the majority of land used in Canada for hydro lines has belonged to First Nations people. She referred to the massive James Bay project in Quebec as an example.

She suggested the OPP should also investigate the activities of non-natives since the protest started on Feb. 28. She said she's been subjected to death threats in a Caledonia citizens' website and was shoved and pushed in the presence of police during a confrontation with residents on May 22.

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