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Suspects sought in Caledonia attacks

Incidents are being investigated and charges will be laid, says OPP official

Kevin McGran - Staff Reporter
Toronto Star
Jun. 11, 2006. 07:25  AM

[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 Provincial Police investigators are seeking seven First Nations suspects after a day and night of confrontation and pushing and shoving kept emotions at the boil at the contested site of a housing development here.

OPP Deputy Commissioner Maurice Pilon said the incidents, which included attacks on an elderly couple who paused while driving by the site, and against camera operators working for a Hamilton TV station, are being investigated, and stressed charges will be laid.

Pilon's comments, at a hastily called news conference yesterday, countered complaints by residents that OPP officers stood idly by as native activists made their attacks.

"One of my greatest fears all along has been that people would get hurt," Pilon said. "Unfortunately, that has occurred," he added, referring to yesterday's attacks, "and I don't think that is acceptable."

CHTV cameraman Nick Garbutt required two staples for a gash to the head following one attack, and Simcoe resident Gunter Golke was rushed to hospital following a heart attack as he and his wife were surrounded in their car by native protestors.

Garbutt complained nearby OPP officers did nothing as native protestors batted away a colleague, tore away Garbutt's camera and confiscated his film. But, Pilon said, suspects have been identified and are being sought to face charges including attempted murder, robbery, forcible confinement, intimidation, theft of a motor vehicle and causing bodily harm.

The deputy commissioner said names of the suspects — all First Nations people but not necessarily all from the nearby Six Nations reserve — will be released after the arrests are made.

"An allegation has been made and will be fully investigated," Pilon said. "Our members are focused on public safety. That means for everyone, whether you're First Nation, whether you're from Caledonia, or whether you're a police officer.

"We want everyone to be safe."

The incidents Friday sparked a demonstration that night by more than 300 Caledonia residents, who stared down OPP officers in riot gear, taunting them for doing nothing as the attacks occurred.

First Nations representatives say the incidents point to an urgent need to settle the dispute, which enters its 104th day today. Residents of the Six Nations reserve say they never sold the land designated for the housing development, and claim it was wrongly taken from them more than 200 years ago. Now they want it back.

"It's one of the reasons we need the federal government to come to the table to get this matter resolved," said Darrell Doxtdator, political adviser to the Six Nations Council. "It's a matter of political will. So far we haven't seen the commitment of the federal government to ... help resolve this situation."

Talks to resolve the standoff are continuing with the provincial government. On Friday, federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley (Haldimand-Norfolk) said in a letter to constituents she wants Queen's Park to authorize the OPP to "clear the protest site so that our community can return to normalcy."

Friday's incidents angered local residents, especially after witnessing what they claim was police inaction. "We are losing respect for the people who are supposed to be protecting us," said Katrina Forrest.

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