Mar 28/97: Trial of Stoney Pointer youth continues


'Broken heart over battle at Ipperwash,' he tells youth's trial

Toronto Star
Friday March 28, 1997
Peter Edwards, Staff Reporter

SARNIA -- An Indian leader says he was trying to get women, children and elders out of Ipperwash Provincial Park the night he was severely beaten by members of the Ontario Provincial Police riot squad.

"I realized something was going wrong," Bernard (Slippery) George, a band councillor from Kettle Point, testified in youth court before Judge Alexander Graham.

His comments come at the trial of an 18-year-old charged with assaulting police -- by driving a school bus at them -- and dangerous driving on September 6, 1995, when Indian activist Anthony (Dudley) George was shot dead by the OPP.

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

Several people in the court began to cry as George told crown attorney Henry Van Drunen about waking up in hospital the next morning with stitches on his face and the back of his head and looking in a mirror.

"First of all, I seen a broken heart," George said. "Not my heart, but my people. Then I seen swollen black eyes, a swollen lip, swollen arms."

George testified he was not one of the group of Indians who had occupied the park at the end of the tourist season.

He said he was alarmed by a buildup of police in the area that night, and went to the park to warn the Indians -- including his sister and 9-year-old nephew -- that he worried things might get violent.

He said he was particularly worried about the safety of a large number of women, children and seniors inside the park that night.

He testified he found police in riot gear marching toward a group of Indians, and tried to talk them into settling things peacefully.

"I told them that our grandparents... are buried here on these lands," he said under questioning from defence lawyer Jeffrey House. "... They were standing there, banging their shields with their batons."

Suddenly, the police attacked he said.

"I felt them kick me in the head," George testified. "I told them that I gave up. I told twice that I quit and I give up but they still kept kicking me... I got kicked in the face. I got kicked in the stomach, I got kicked in the groin."

One of the approximately eight officers hitting him called him a "savage," George said.

He testified he considered the youth on trial a "brother," even thought they live in different communities.

The youth has testified that he drove the bus out of the park to try rescue George from the beating.

"First Nations people have a bond which other people will take a long time to understand," George testified.

He said he never shouted abuse or threw things at police, and only raised a stick to protect himself when rushed by police.

Last July, George was acquitted of charges of assault and mischief arising from the confrontation.

"I felt I had a right to be there, in a public parking lot," George told Van Drunen. "... If you were there, your heart would have been broken also, sir."

Dr. Alison Marr of Strathroy testified she treated George for 28 cuts, bruises and areas of soreness and that he was in the hospital for three days.

"My opinion would be that there was blunt trauma to most of these areas," Marr testified.

The trial was about to conclude yesterday, but defence lawyer House said he needs time to study the implications of a report published yesterday. It was based on a previously secret document prepared by a provincial government committee that held a three hour meeting on the Ipperwash situation on Sept. 5, 1995.

The document, obtained by Southam News under the Freedom of Information Act, states: "The province will take steps to remove the occupiers ASAP."

OPP officers have testified that they were under strict orders not to attempt to remove the Indians from the park.

The case will continue May 6.

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