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Ontario police seek arrest warrants after violence at aboriginal blockade

Canadian Press
Published: Saturday, June 10, 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, Ont. (CP) - Police were seeking arrest warrants Saturday for seven aboriginal protesters they say were involved in a string of violent clashes at the scene of a long-standing native blockade in southern Ontario.

The seven face a battery of serious charges, including attempted murder, assault and forcible confinement, after angry protesters surrounded a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle on Friday and dragged out its three occupants.

"They were forcibly removed after they were swarmed," said provincial police Const. Doug Graham.

Then the stolen vehicle was deliberately sped toward a provincial police officer, who was injured as he was pulled out of its path, said Graham

Graham said the officer was treated and released. The stolen vehicle was recovered but no arrests were made.

Officers from the U.S. Border Patrol were in the area to observe how provincial police were handling the standoff, he added.

"Often, police officials work together and share information, and that group was here observing how we were using our police resources during this incident," Graham said.

Other charges police expect to lay against the protesters include theft of a motor vehicle, robbery, intimidation and assault causing bodily harm, he added.

The incident was just one of several altercations with protesters on Friday that are related to the charges.

Several hundred angry residents of Caledonia confronted police in full riot gear to protest police inaction after two CH-TV news cameramen were injured in a scuffle with angry protesters. One of the victims, who needed stitches to close a head wound, said police officers were nearby, but took no action during the attack.

Police say they will also be laying charges in relation to an incident Friday involving an elderly couple whose car was surrounded by protesters. The man in the car, who suffers from a heart condition, was taken to hospital for observation, but no one was injured, police said.

Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer told CH News she has a difficult time believing provincial police would stand idly by while individuals were being attacked.

"Any of the OPP officers that I know, they wouldn't have let that happen," Trainer said.

"They wouldn't have let those seniors be harassed like that, and they wouldn't have let those cameramen be beat up - I know they wouldn't. So I don't know what was wrong with those few that were there."

Deputy OPP commissioner Maurice Pilon Pilon agreed.

"I find it difficult to accept that our officers are not engaging when they need to," he said.

In a statement Saturday, the Six Nations Confederacy said they are a peaceful people and don't condone violence in any form.

"The actions which occurred at the Six Nations reclamation site and within the town of Caledonia today are very disheartening," the statement said.

"Our prayers and concern are with those who were injured during the outbreaks today. A peaceful co-existence with our neighbours and the safety of all remain at the paramount of our concerns."

The individuals involved in the incidents have been removed from the site until the Six Nations complete its own investigation, the statement said. The confederacy said it's committed to working with the OPP to "de-escalate" the situation.

The rash of violence was just the latest flashpoint in the standoff, which is now more than 100 days old.

A blockade was erected more than three months ago as protesters from the nearby Six Nations reserve took over a housing development they say was being built on land they have claimed as their own.

In announcing the warrants on Saturday, Pilon said his greatest fear was that someone would be hurt over the course of the standoff.

"Unfortunately that has occurred," Pilon said. "And I don't think that's acceptable."

Following a speech to radio and TV news directors in St. John's, N.L., Gen. Rick Hillier, Canada's chief of defence staff for the Canadian Forces, said that he doesn't expect the military to get involved in the dispute any time soon.

"We believe that's a police operation, and every conversation we've ever had with police forces is that this is their business...getting this thing right is the way to approach it," Hillier said.

"Of course, having said that, in any instance in Canada, of course we stand by with generic plans to move to help Canadians if the government of Canada decides to use us, but in this case, we're not doing any planning specifically for Caledonia."

Premier Dalton McGuinty said Friday he's angry about the way some people at the blockade are behaving, and said he hopes they don't destroy efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

Critics are blaming the legacy of the Ipperwash standoff, where aboriginal protester Dudley George was killed by a police bullet in 1995, for the reluctance of police to crack down on unruly protesters.

McGuinty's political opponents have also attacked the premier for failing to provide any direction to police in dealing with the protesters, but McGuinty has stood firm and insisted that a peaceful solution is within reach.

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