RAMSEY CLARK LAWRENCE W. SCHILLING LAW OFFICE 36 EAST 12TH STREET NEW YORK, N.Y. 10003 August 29, 1995 Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh Attorney General Parliament Building of British Columbia Victoria, British Columbia V8V 1X4 By Fax 604 387-6411 and Mail Dear Mr. Attorney General,I write to urge you to pursue nonviolent means of addressing the issues raised by the present confrontation between traditional Shuswap Indians and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police near Gustafson Lake. There is no justification for the use of force, or for conduct by law enforcement that might provoke violence. The emotionalized state of mind of all involved is clear. With the RCMP calling the Indians "thugs" and "terrorists" and promising force, the risk they will employ excessive, deadly force, causing bloodshed and loss of lives is overwhelming unless restraint is ordered. Moral and legal leadership requires the avoidance of violence and bloodshed. The responsibility is yours.
As a former Attorney General of the late United States, in the turbulent late 1960s I recognized the protection of the public from official violence as the highest civil rights enforcement duty of law enforcement. Restraint, patience, civility, dialogue, negotiation and simply waiting where there is no imminent threat to life are duties under law. As a lawyer in government and private life these past 35 years I have watched the effects of government violence on the quality of life and respect for law and government from scores of cases like the Orangeburg, South Carolina massacre, the Algiers Motel murders in Detroit, riot prosecutions in dozens of cities, the Fred Hampton murder, work as counsel of the Alaska Federation of natives, Leonard Peltier, the Kent State University student body President indicted following the shooting deaths of four students by National Guardsmen, prisoners indicted after law enforcement killed 30 prisoners and 9 hostages in the Attica prison rebellion and presently as counsel to survivors and families of persons among the 86 church members who died at Mt. Carmel Church, near Waco, Texas in 1993.
Nothing hurts law, government, or society more than violent clashes between government agents and the people. When a people are acting in conscience and belief and the government assaults them from arrogance, prejudice, intolerance, or impatience, the government and its leadership will be condemned in history for its disservice to peace, democracy, liberty and humanity.
I urge you to act immediately to defuse a dangerous situation, to begin dialogue and to seek arbitration of all issues perhaps by an independent and impartial panel comprised of no Canadians and no Indians.
The peaceful resolution of this crisis is largely in your hands. If there is violence, every hope for peace, justice and human dignity will suffer.
If I can be helpful, call me.