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Residents, police face off in wake of native-media melee

Premier condemns the violence, urges calm

Deirdre Healey and Laura Thompson
Hamilton Spectator
Friday, June 09, 2006 | Updated at 10:50 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 -- Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty condemned the violence that saw two CH cameramen taken to hospital yesterday after a scrimmage with natives.

And residents angry at lack of police response to the event filled the streets last night, confronting police who, for the first time, were in riot gear.

The fight erupted over footage the cameramen captured of a confrontation between natives and an elderly couple in front of Canadian Tire.

Cameramen Nick Garbutt and Ken MacKay said about 15 OPP officers stood by and made no attempt to intervene. The pair say they were rescued by a town resident.

Garbutt was sent by ambulance to the West Haldimand General Hospital. He received two staples for a gash to the head that occurred when three or four natives surrounded him and started throwing punches after he refused to surrender the camera or footage.

MacKay accompanied Garbutt to hospital, but did not require treatment.

In a statement from Edmonton yesterday, McGuinty said, "It was with great disappointment that I learned of the violent incidents in Caledonia today. I would like to express sympathy and concern for those injured.

"I also condemn the violence caused by an irresponsible few, a repugnant attempt to derail the important progress we are making."

Around 6 last night, residents angered by the afternoon's events began gathering near the Canadian Tire and by dark, there were perhaps 300 or 400. They confronted OPP officers, yelling "Anybody know who is in charge?" and "I want to know what happened today."

The police presence steadily increased and around 9:30, about 60 OPP officers in riot gear suddenly emerged from behind a building, forming a line across the road, with more officers in regular uniform behind them. The police blocked the road for about 10 minutes, then moved the line along the side of the road.

One resident was arrested, apparently for creating a disturbance, and was taken away in a cruiser.

This was the first time police appeared in riot gear, and comes just two days after Karl Walsh, the president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, complained that OPP brass had ruled out use of "public order gear" -- consisting of helmets, visors and shields. Walsh said the OPP was concerned about an aggressive image, although riot gear would be normal for control of unruly crowds.

A resident on Thistlemoor Drive, which backs onto the site of the disputed subdivision that natives have occupied for more than 100 days, said police evacuated people from the street for their safety.

There were rumours that the police were going to go onto the subdivision to try to arrest those involved in the afternoon's melee but when that didn't happen by 10 p.m., the crowds resumed taunting the police.

The afternoon's disturbance began when Garbutt and MacKay were dispatched to the Canadian Tire, located near the location of the former barricade on Argyle Street, after reports of a dispute between natives and a non-native couple.

Kathe Golke, a 15-year Simcoe resident, said she stopped by the barricade with her husband Gunter Golke to "look at where they're building houses." She denied having a camera or taking photographs, but there was some kind of altercation and natives followed their car to the Canadian Tire parking lot.

She said natives surrounded her car and started harassing her and her husband. One native put his hand through an open car window while others jumped on the vehicle.

Following the incident, she said her husband had a heart attack and was rushed to West Haldimand General Hospital. A call to the emergency ward confirmed Golke was in their care, but staff would not confirm he had suffered a heart attack or elaborate on his condition.

MacKay said when he arrived on the scene, roughly 25 natives had surrounded the Golke's car.

He and Garbutt set up their camera approximately 50 metres from the scene after an OPP officer told them not to get any closer.

Three or four natives left the group around the car, walked by a couple OPP officers and demanded the cameramen hand over the camera and film.

Garbutt and MacKay refused and Garbutt stepped in front of the camera and tripod.

One native went to grab the camera and Garbutt grabbed his arm. Then Garbutt said three to four natives surrounded him, spun him around and threw him against the side of the CH van.

He said he was put in a headlock and felt three or four punches to his head.

"I know it wouldn't last long because the OPP were right there. I thought I was going to be safe," Garbutt said.

But the OPP didn't intervene. MacKay said the officers, about 15 of them, stood by and watched the natives assault Garbutt and then steal the camera.

After removing the tape, the natives went back to the vehicle and left the camera on the pavement.

Garbutt said they quietly dispersed after the incident.

The 53-year-old cameraman was rushed to hospital by ambulance about 15 minutes after the confrontation.

MacKay said police would not disclose who was in charge at the scene, despite his requests to speak to the commanding officer.

John McKenna, a CH executive producer, said CH TV would complain to the OPP about their lack of intervention during the assault.

Garbutt was released from hospital around 3 p.m. and he and MacKay made a statement to police at the OPP detachment in Cayuga.

Calls made by The Hamilton Spectator to native spokespeople about the incident were not returned.

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