SARNIA - A native man facing four charges, including assault, in connection with the occupation of Camp Ipperwash was trying to defend his people against military harassment, his lawyer said Tuesday.
"That's the underlying theme, the danger that the accused was trying to minimize," defense lawyer Jeffrey House said in his summation.
Glenn Morris George, of Stoney Point is charged with two counts of assault, one of mischief and one of uttering a death threat.
The charges followed two incidents - on June 27 and 28, 1995 - at the former army camp, where he was taking part on a native occupation of the land.
"This case is not about justice," House said. "One side controls the laying of criminal charges, the other has nothing to say about it. So, while it is illegal to block a road and it is illegal to slash tires, that is not for consideration here."
TIRE SLASHERS: House was referring to testimony by both natives and military personnel that the army built roadblocks - some out of "tire slashers" - across roads used by natives to go to their burial grounds and to the beach on the former camp.
A tire slasher is an iron instrument of sharpened, four-pointed stars along a bar about one-metre long. It can damage tires and hurt anyone who falls on it.
Natives testified that, during the night, the military placed tire slashers at camp entrances and roads frequently used by natives. They said they had many flat tires in the months before July 29, 1995, when native moved into the military barracks area of the camp and the military moved out.
Assistant Crown attorney Henry Van Drunen said "apprehension of danger" and "perceived injustice" are not reasons to excuse George's behaviour in the two incidents form which the charges stem.
He urged Judge A.M. Graham to reject George's testimony because his answers were not responsive to the questions asked.
"He wasn't here to help the court find the truth," Van Drunen said in his summation. Instead, George testified "to espouse his view of native and military relations... that may be appropriate in another venue."
Testimony Tuesday centred on an incident at 4:20 am in June 28, when George and another man patrolling a portion of the camp used by natives came across a man with an army jacket and a tire slasher beside him. The man ran to a military truck which drove into the army camp. George and his partner followed and an altercation ensued.
George was charged with assaulting two army personnel. He testified he hadn't assaulted them.
Throughout the two-day trial, Melva George, Glenn George's mother and a Stoney Point elder, sat in the front row of the courtroom holding a staff adorned with eagle feathers and tobacco ties. The courtroom was also packed with other supporters, both native and non-native.
London native activists, members of the Canadian Alliance in Solidarity with Native Peoples, and representatives of the Mennonite Central Committee were there. Glenn George and many other wore sweatshirts sporting a picture of Dudley George, the native protester shot by Police outside Ipperwash Provincial Park on Sept. 6, 1995. He was Glenn George's cousin.
Graham will give his decision March 24 or set a date and time to give his decision.
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