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Surrounded by rage

Samantha Craggs
Simcoe Reformer
Thursday, June 15, 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.]

It was supposed to be a leisurely drive to Ancaster. Kathe and Guenter Golke never made it. They got as far as Caledonia, in the heart of a native standoff that turned violent last Friday. That’s where raging protesters surrounded their car, jumped on the car’s hood, and banged on the windows.

Guenter and Kathe Golke are nice people.

Good natured retirees of German descent, they are the type to offer a coffee or beer to anyone entering their Simcoe home. Guenter likes technology and his homemade pond. Kathe has adopted numerous neighbourhood stray cats.

Kathe recalls having one speeding ticket in her 40 years of living in Canada, and even then, she had a good reason. That’s her sole experience being on the wrong side of the law.

Through a routine Friday morning shopping trip to Ancaster, taking the scenic route, the Golkes unwittingly became the turning point in one of the most hotly-debated and politically tumultuous standoffs in Ontario’s recent history. They were victims of a growing wrath that turned the Caledonia native dispute from peaceful to increasingly violent.

The Golkes drive to Ancaster a couple of times a month, and take various routes. This time, they turned off Highway 6 onto Argyle Street, which had been blocked, then unblocked, then blocked, then unblocked again by a native barricade ongoing since February 28 in a protest over the development of land the natives say belongs to them. Guenter slowed their newer model Ford Taurus along the street to take a look at the mostly-empty subdivision, which without the standoff would now be fledgling future homes. Imagine all the homes that would be there now, he said to his wife. Imagine how much money the developer is losing.

Just then, an intimidating-looking woman in a black jacket pulled up on a motorcycle. Kathe at first assumed she was a police officer.

“She said ‘why are you stopping? Get out of here,’” Kathe recalls. “Then she looked in the car, looked at me and said ‘you bitch, you.’”

The Golkes were stunned. “This is nuts,” Guenter said, and tried to pull away. Soon they were surrounded, and they pulled into the Canadian Tire parking lot next to a police cruiser, thinking the officer could help.

Their car was immediately surrounded. Some climbed onto the car hood and jumped up and down. Others banged the roof and the windows. For the Golkes, it was like witnessing a car wreck -- the surreal feeling that it wasn’t really happening, that it was something they were watching in a movie. They were only there for a few minutes, but looking back, time still seems a blur.

The officer called for help. The Golkes estimate two or three cruisers came. One by one, officers shielded the couple, both 68 years old, and put them in a cruiser to take them to safety. They rode away with the police, the car still behind in the parking lot, now covered in dents and scratches equivalent to about $3,000 damage.

The Golkes were taken to the police station, where Guenter first noticed a tight pain in his chest. With two inoperable blocked arteries, his heart is always a concern. He turned pale and clammy and sparked enough alarm that he was rushed to West Haldimand General Hospital in the early stages of a heart attack. He was released that night, but it was far from over.

Across the street from the incident had been two CH TV cameramen filming the onslaught. Protesters demanded the cameramen turn over their film. One who refused was swarmed and assaulted, and taken to the same hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Another vehicle was swarmed that day, with the occupants forcibly removed and the vehicle stolen. An officer was injured and deliberately driven at with the stolen vehicle when other officers pulled him to safety. He was transported to hospital with serious injuries.

The Caledonia residents heard about the attacks, starting with the Golkes, and were outraged. Police had to stop several altercations. Another officer was injured, this time with pepper spray. By Monday, Premier Dalton McGuinty had halted negotiations, saying the province would only negotiate if the protest was non-violent. Talks resume today.

The couple is back with their pond and their neighbourhood cats. Guenter has recovered. An auto body shop will pull the dents out of their car, which has a bent licence plate and scuffs from shoes, the only physical reminder of the swarming that made them national news. There were six different sets of fingerprints found on the car.

It is only in the days afterward that the magnitude of what happened has settled in their minds. For three days, they needed pills to help them sleep. They couldn’t shake the feeling that they were in danger. Their names had been in the media. What if the protesters came after them? Guenter even considered taking the number off their house to hide their address.

“You’re OK but not over it,” Guenter says. “It doesn’t leave your mind.”

They are thankful to the hospital and to the police, who despite media reports to the contrary did help them. “We said when we win the lottery, we’ll send them all on vacation,” Kathe says. They also have no hard feelings toward Native people and know not all protesters are violent. Like everyone, they just think it’s gone on too long with “an inaction I can’t comprehend,” Guenter says.

“The public gets really sensitive when you have little kids or really old kids involved. I have a feeling and a hope something happens soon.”

Samantha Craggs
(519) 426-5710 ext. 136

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