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A call from a native spiritual leader at Gustafsen Lake went unanswered for hours as RCMP officers debated whether to tell the truth about camouflaged police surrounding the camp, BC Supreme Court in Surrey heard yesterday.
"Percy thinks not us," wrote Kamloops Staff-Sgt. Ken Porter in his Aug.18, 1995, notes - a reference to Indian leader Percy Rosette, who called police at 6:30 a.m. complaining about "men with guns" in the woods near the native camp.
But Porter says there was no need to caution the defiant occupants that the men were actually police sharpshooters reconnoitering the camp in preparation for an assault with armored carriers on Aug. 25. (That assault was aborted when the carriers weren't readily available.)
"I didn't feel we had any obligation to go rushing out there to state the obvious...given the unlawful occupation," Porter told Rosette's defence counsel, Sheldon Tate.
Three calls from concerned camp supporters were not returned until that afternoon as police debated their options. As well, two native negotiators from 100 Mile House were called off and tape recordings of the calls were destroyed. Porter finally assured camp occupants at 4:00 PM that camouflaged officers were no longer in the area.
The court has heard that the natives - believed to be "six to 20 men, women and children," according to RCMP papers - were threatened on June 13 by ranch owner Lyle James, who rode into the camp "to hang ourselves a red nigger." Tate suggested yesterday that the natives feared the police reconnaissance team were actually white supremacists. [and they were - SISIS ed.]
Joseph (JoJo) Ignace, the mentally disabled son of camp leader Jones William (Wolverine) Ignace, is charged with attempted murder after allegedly firing at officers as they crept toward the camp, southwest of 100 Mile house.
The older Ignace is also charged with attempted murder after firing at police in armored carriers after the camp's supply truck was blown up on Sept.11 by the RCMP. Sixteen others in the month-long standoff, which ended peacefully Sept.17, face weapons and criminal-trespassing charges. Yesterday, court also heard that:
- Porter's notes of Aug.18 state: "Execute the warrant ASAP," an apparent reference to police beliefs that a BC Supreme Court order existed authorizing a search of the camp. No such order exists.
- A preliminary plan written largely by Porter, to assault the camp Aug. 25, refers to "links" between encampment members and "several shooting incidents." No direct connection has been established between the accused and previous shooting incidents. Justice Bruce Josephson cautioned jurors that opinions on earlier violence "may be misguided or just plain wrong."