Sep 12/95: Gustafsen Lake-Police shoot Defenders


Ernie Yacub
Tuesday, September 12, 1995

According to an RCMP news conference held last night at 6:30pm, there was a firefight between RCMP and occupants of a red truck on the road close to the Sundance Defenders camp. The police said "thousands of rounds" were fired. However, a delegation of Shuswap natives, who turned back from their appointed meeting with the defenders when they heard the shots, reported hearing only 40 or 50.

Unfortunately, the only reports we have are from the media who get their information from the police. The police are saying that a red truck was disabled (probably a land mine or some such device) on the road just outside the camp. Several people fled the truck and were pursued by the cops, who stopped when they were shot at. They returned fire, wounding three, so they say. The police say that one of the casualties, a woman, was seriously hurt. They offered, by radio phone, to come into the camp to bring the wounded people out and were told to piss off (my words).

Sergeant Montague of the RCMP then proceeded to tell the media that one of the wounded men is an "american with a criminal record" and that there were several in the camp who were manipulating the situation. None of the people who have been in the camp, as participants, visitors, or delegations, have said anything to corroborate the police analysis. Indeed, Assembly of First Nations Chief Ovide Mercredi was very clear in his statements that the people in the camp were not criminals and deserved a hearing.

The police are blaming the Shuswap Defenders for preventing a negotiated settlement. It is curious that almost every time a delegation appears to be making progress in that regard, a shooting incident takes place. Why are the police close enough to the camp to encounter and exchange shots with the defenders? Why do police helicopters insist on being close enough to be shot at? Why don't they back off and let the elders and the leaders of the Shuswap nation continue their talks?

Contrary to police and government statements that they are attempting to reach a peaceful settlement, it is they who have pushed, harassed, and terrified the defenders. After all, the police are extremely well armed, complete with Bison armoured vehicles, and very mobile. The defenders are few in number and are trapped within the closing ring of police armaments.

The people in the red truck were probably going for water.

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