This morning in the Sarnia courthouse, Warren George of Stoney Point was convicted of assault with a weapon and criminal negligence causing bodily harm (the charge of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle was stayed). Warren had driven a car in the direction of the 32-member OPP Emergency Response Team, after they had severely beaten and then dragged Cecil Bernard George of nearby Kettle Point toward the arrest van located at the rear of the OPP units.
Both convictions resulted from actions which occurred the evening of September 6, 1995, just minutes before the murder of Dudley George. Less than a year ago, OPP Acting Sargent Kenneth Deane was convicted of criminal negligence causing the death of Dudley. In his judgement today, Judge Greg Pockele strongly implied that the Stoney Point people who were defending the burial ground (located in "Ipperwash Provincial Park") were responsible for the confrontation with the OPP and even "perhaps" the death of Dudley. Pockele stated the police were justified in their level of violence as it is their job to "dominate" such a situtation by using all means at their disposal.
Warren was not the only person to come to the defense of Cecil Bernard George. A young Stoney Point man had driven a school bus through police lines. This man was acquitted of similar charges as the judge in that case considered driving a vehicle towards the cops was reasonable, and that to have come to the defense of Cecil without a vehicle would have been "unreasonable." Maybe this is why the judge was changed for Warren's case.
Warren testified that he had swerved off the road to avoid being shot by a cop who was directly in front of him with a gun raised. After swerving the car made contact with a few cops. The only injury sustained was by officer Mark Close who had a strained ligament in his knee. (At the hospital they gave him a bandage, some tylenol and then he took 5 days off work. Close also testified that he required treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.) Judge Poopoo discredited Warren's testimony by insisting that Warren had no reason to fear being shot. In fact, the judge dismissed much of Warren and Cecil's testimony that their actions were undertaken out of fear of being "murdered" or detained by the OPP. The judge felt that the Stoney Point people had no reason to fear the OPP. He made no mention of body bags the OPP had brought with them that night, and did not question timing of the OPP advance which occured at approximately 11pm after the cops shut off the park lights. The judge failed to make mention of the photo exhibit of Warren's car with more than 20 bullet holes.
The judge's racist ruling reinforced and supported the racist violence of the OPP. These convictions cannot be seen in any light other than the conscious perpetration of personal, political and systemic injustice against native people.
Warren will be sentenced in Sarnia on April 3, 1998. If the just-us system sends him to prison, Warren will be yet another native political prisoner in a Canadian jail. Native genocide continues to be a government supported Canadian tradition.
SARNIA -- Natives and supporters screamed abuse at police outside court here Thursday after a judge convicted a native on driving charges in a 1995 clash between protesters and police outside Ipperwash Provincial Park. At one point a police officer had to struggle to get to his car, which was briefly surrounded in the confrontation following the decision by Judge Greg Pockele in Ontario Court, provincial division.
Pockele found Warren George, 24, guilty on three charges in connection with the clash with police on Sept. 6, 1995, in which Dudley George, one of the protesters, was shot and killed. George will be sentenced April 3 on charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon, his car.
The judge stayed action on the third conviction, dangerous driving causing bodily harm. That conviction would remain stayed and not registered unless the other convictions are appealed.
The Ipperwash confrontations with police came two days after protesters occupied the park, arguing they were reclaiming land where a burial ground had been desecrated. George was shot and killed by police. OPP Acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane was later convicted of criminal negligence causing death. Another protester, Cecil Bernard George, has filed a civil action against police, arguing he was badly beaten by officers using excessive force.
After court Thursday, Melva George, Warren's grandmother, brushed back tears. "I felt like bawling my eyes out in there. We've been denied justice again," she said. Chief Irvin George of the Kettle and Stony Point band called the ruling "rubbish. "It's typical that it sides with the police and picks on our people."
Pierre George, a brother of Dudley George and second cousin of Warren George, was among the group who pursued the police officer to his car. "Where's the justice? It's a coverup of police action," he said. George, who drove his dying brother to hospital after he was shot, said "it's another example of an innocent man being nailed. We were defending our land."
The melee at Ipperwash erupted after an OPP riot squad moved to clear a parking lot at one of the park's gates. With rocks and stones being hurled at police, Warren George drove his car out of the park and into the parking lot where protesters were fighting with officers. The judge dismissed Warren George's testimony that he was trying to rescue Cecil Bernard George from police and Cecil Bernard George's testimony that he was trying to be a peacemaker.
Pockele said the actions of protesters were "extremely dangerous, violent and assaultive" and caused "all violence and injuries which occurred that night and the death of a man." He said "there was no reason known to man which would justify this violence," with protesters attacking police with bats and poles after officers moved back from the park. One officer was injured and up to four others knocked to the ground when Warren George drove his car into a group.
Dismissing much of George's testimony as "incredible, hyperbolic, illogical and unworthy of belief," Pockele said he didn't buy George's argument he hadn't intended to hit the officers with the car. The judge also described Cecil Bernard George's testimony as exaggerated and his actions as "more consistent with bravado and antagonism than an attempt to defuse a confrontation."
On Thursday February 12 Warren George, of Stoney Point, was found guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, his car, and dangerous driving by Judge Greg Pockele. The dangerous driving charge was stayed.
Warren's trial is the last in a series of court cases intended to criminalize the Stoney Pointers for their struggle for self-determination and justice. The charges stem from September 6, 1995 when Dudley George, of Stoney Point, was murdered by OPP sniper Ken Deane during an OPP assault on the Stoney Point community. Around 10 p.m. on September 6 over 30 OPP officers in riot gear marched down a darkened road to confront Stoney Pointers who were defending their territory. Warren drove his car slowly through the OPP formation in an attempt to locate another Native person, Bernard "Slippery" George, who had been arrested and severely beaten by the OPP riot squad.
On that night the Stoney Pointers were defending their traditional burial grounds. The province of Ontario had desecrated the burial grounds in 1937 to provide recreation for tourists... the burial grounds were bulldozed in the creation of Ipperwash Provincial Park. In total 62 charges have been laid against the Stoney Pointers in connection with their reclamation of Aazhoodena (Stoney Point) Territory. An overwhelming number of 45 charges have been withdrawn by the crown because of "no reasonable prospect of conviction." Those which were withdrawn include charges which attempted to place weapons into the hands of the Stoney Pointers, who were unarmed throughout the OPP assault. Four charges were dismissed and there has been 1 guilty plea, 9 convictions and 3 acquittals, including the acquittal of a Stoney Point youth who maneuvered a school bus through the riot squad for the same reason as Warren.
In a opportunistic attempt to reverse some of the findings of previous court cases, Judge Pockele stated that Bernard "Slippery" George had assaulted OPP officers. BUt, Slippery has been acquitted of the assault police charge which was laid on him. Judge Pockele even went as far as blaming the Stoney Pointers for the death of Dudley George, stating that the actions of the Stoney Pointers were "extremely dangerous, violent and assaultive," and caused "all injuries which occurred that night and the death of a man."
One week previous to Warren's trial, the same judge acquitted a cop on drunk driving charges. Sgt. Jeff Dreidger passed out while driving his pick-up, crashed into a stop sign, a Bell telephone box and a utility pole before coming to a stop. Judge Pockele ruled that Dreidger's driving could not be attributed to his drinking. Instead, he cited a "fainting fit" as the cause. Dreidger had testified that he has experienced these fainting fits since he was 18 but had never mentioned it to senior officers or attempted to get any help for his problem.
Warren George returns to court on April 3 for his sentencing. It is possible that Warren will be sentenced to prison time, which would make his "punishment" for defending his people's territory more severe than Acting OPP Sgt. Deane's slap on the wrist for taking the life of Dudley. In April of 1997, Deane was given two years less a day of community service for being criminally negligent (while in the line of duty) causing the death of Dudley George.
Anti- Racist Action-Toronto is one group working in solidarity with the people of Stoney Point. Anyone interested in helping with this can contact ARA- Toronto.
Anti-Racist Action (Toronto)
P.O. Box 291
Toronto, ON M5T 2T2 Canada Tel: (416) 631-8835>