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OPP is doing its best, ministers say

Laura Thompson
Hamilton Spectator
(Jun 12, 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 minister responsible for the OPP is defending the force's strategy in the Caledonia standoff, saying an aggressive OPP intervention would make the situation much worse.

Native protesters, meanwhile, said yesterday that despite the violence of the last week, they have not lost control of the people behind the barricades.

Monte Kwinter, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, said the OPP is doing the best job it can in a difficult situation for everyone involved.

"If there is a direct use of force and open confrontation, we're going to have a problem that's going to pale in comparison," to the current situation.

Police have been harshly criticized by local residents who say they have failed to enforce the law and stood by when native protesters harassed an elderly couple and attacked a TV cameraman.

Over the past week, tensions have mounted around the barricade on the Douglas Creek Estates development.

On June 4, Caledonia residents clashed with native protesters after a police cruiser drove down the Sixth Line -- an apparent no-go area.

On Friday, a vehicle was stolen by protesters near Braemar Avenue and an OPP officer was sent to hospital with serious injuries.

Six arrest warrants have been issued by the police in connection with Friday's incidents. A warrant for a seventh is pending. Native protesters won't say whether they're co-operating with the OPP to apprehend the individuals.

Janie Jamieson, a spokesperson for the native protesters, said the people involved in the clashes outside the Canadian Tire store Friday did not have authority to leave the barricades.

She said the protesters didn't condone violence and denies Friday's incident indicates a fracture in the group.

"There's not a loss of control. Maybe they, in the heat of the moment, did something that wasn't representative of everyone," she said. "We're still focused. We still know why we're there."

Ken Hewitt, spokesperson for the Caledonia Citizens Alliance, said a double standard exists in how the police have upheld the law.

He said several Caledonia residents were arrested on Friday when they clashed with police but no arrests have actually been made in connection to the altercations involving native protesters.

"The warrants mean absolutely nothing to this community," he said. "They need to demonstrate that they truly are willing to uphold the law."

The frustration echoed by Caledonia residents extends to the government.

"The OPP have sent the message they are incapable of policing this situation, and unfortunately the governments are too blind and incapable to take notice," he said.

Minister David Ramsay, who is responsible for aboriginal affairs in Ontario, condemned the violence on the weekend, but said the OPP are doing their best in a difficult situation.

He said the only way to improve the situation is to remove all the barricades.

"People have gone too far. No government can stand for lawlessness," he said. "What happened over the last few days scared all of us. We need to get the situation back under control and again concentrate on solving this around a negotiating table."

For the moment, OPP spokespeople say they will continue their current strategy to protect public safety. An investigation is under way to determine whether police did their job during Friday's events. "All I can say is that we've been here for 104 days. We've been doing the best job we can to remain neutral and keep the peace," said OPP Constable Keith Robb.

Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer said she doesn't believe that's the case. "If there are two sets of rules, then let me know."

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