Mar 26/97: Stoney Point (aka Ipperwash) trial update


The Toronto Star
Wednesday March 26, 1997
Peter Edwards, staff reporter

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only. It may contain biased and distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context.]

SARNIA - Ontario Provincial Police riot squad officers pounded steel batons on their shields in a late-night attempt to intimidate Indian demonstrators at Ipperwash Provincial Park, a court heard yesterday.

No attempt was made for a dialogue between police and Indians occupying the park before a wild brawl erupted around 11 p.m. on Sept. 5, 1995 -- the night Indian militant Anthony (Dudley) George was shot dead, Judge A. M. Graham heard.

The comments by Constable Peter Osborne came in the trial in youth court of an Indian charged with dangerous driving and assaulting police by driving a school bus at them.

Under the Young Offenders Act the youth, who was 16 at the time of the incident, cannot be identified.

Now 18, he sat calmly holding an eagle feather as Osborne described how 32 members of the OPP crowd management unit beat their steel batons on shields as they marched toward the park.

The park had been occupied earlier in the week by Indians at the end of the tourist season, saying it was built on sacred burial ground.


Hitting batons on their shields is called "shield chatter," Osborne said.

This is done to create, "a tat, tat, tat and it's loud," he said. "And it's meant to intimidate.

"No one said to anyone, 'keep out of the parking lot, it's no man's land?'" asked defense lawyer Jeffry House.

"I can't recall anyone saying that," Osborne replied.

The riot squad was dispatched to the park that night to establish a police presence at an intersection near the beach outside the park, its leader, Staff-Sergeant Wade Lacroix, testified.

Police had been told Indians had lit a bonfire outside the park.

When the riot squad arrived, they found the bonfire was actually off the roadway and inside the park, Lacroix said.

The half-dozen Indians who were outside the park quickly retreated into the park when police approached, Lacroix added.

Things quickly turned ugly as police stood outside the park.

Indians began pelting police with rocks and sticks, which bounced off the officers' heavy body armor, he said.


Indians advanced, and, "what ensued was... one of the biggest stick fights, one of the most violent actions that I've seen in 22 years of policing," Lacroix testified.

At the peak of the battle, there were about 15 or 20 Indians fighting with about 32 police officers, Lacroix said.

A police sniper on duty that night testified most of the Indians retreated into the park as soon as police rushed them.

"Four or five stood and fought," said constable Mike Beauschesne.

"And the rest retreated?" House asked.

"Either retreated or were overrun," Beauschesne replied.

Lacroix testified he fired two shots from his handgun at the driver of the school bus when he feared the driver was trying to run down police.

Under questioning from crown attorney Henry Van Drunen, Lacroix said he could not accurately estimate how quickly the bus was traveling.

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