A sentence of two years less a day of community service given to Acting Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Sergeant Kenneth Deane was met with cries of anger and disbelief. Deane, convicted of criminal negligence causing the death of Anthony O'Brien "Dudley" George of Stoney Point First Nation will keep his job and be carrying a firearm again in two years.
Dudley George's brother, Pierre, said of the sentence, "My brother's life comes too cheap to these people. My brother gets laid in his grave, and this guy gets sent home."
The sentence is even more outrageous given that Judge Hugh Fraser found that Deane had lied in court. When reading the verdict, Fraser stated that Deane had, "concocted a story...in an ill-fated attempt to disguise the fact that an unarmed man was shot...[Deane was] not fully honest in [his] statements to police investigators, to the SIU (Special Investigations Unit) and to this court."
Community groups in Toronto outraged by the non-sentence handed to Deane by Ontario's just-us system, organized a press conference in front of Ontario Attorney General Charles Harnick's office to demand that the "sentence" be appealed. The press conference turned into a day long occupation of the eleven story building when those attending the press conference entered the building to request a meeting with Harnick. The doors to the building were immediately locked, preventing people from moving in and out of the building. Demonstrators were later told that the Attorney General and all his staff capable of booking an appointment were on holidays.
Shuffled to the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariate (ONAS), located in the same building, demonstrators remained all day demanding the ONAS find someone in the Attorney General's office capable of booking a tentative appointment. The occupation ended around 5:30 p.m. when ONAS officials finally promised to inquire with the Attorney General's office about a meeting.
The next day, organizers were given the name of the individual responsible for appeals, Murray Seagul of the Crown Law Office-Criminal, who simply informed them that the decision to appeal was still under review.
Lack of a commitment to appeal Deane's non-sentence prompted community groups to organize a 24 hour a day vigil outside the Attorney General's office in a countdown to the appeal deadline (30 days after the sentencing). The morning the vigil was to start, newspapers reported that the sentence had, in fact, been appealed. Deane's lawyers, however, have also appealed the conviction. The appeals could take up to a year to be resolved in the courts.
Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Mike Harris is under increasing pressure to come clean about his role in the shooting death of Dudley George. Police records and other documents from the days and hours leading up to Dudley's murder continue to reveal the extent of the provincial government's role in this politically motivated murder.
Premier Mike Harris has consistently tried to deny any role in the police operation at Stoney Point on September 6, 1995, which resulted in the shooting death of Dudley George. But the evidence points to a different scenario -- that the Progressive Conservative government under Mike Harris actually overruled the OPP, allegedly ordering them to, "get the fucking Indians out of the park."
An "emergency" meeting was held the day before Dudley was murdered. Premier's Office staffer Deb Hutton as well as representatives of the Attorney General's Office, the Solicitor General's Office, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariate and the OPP attended this meeting. Minutes from the meeting reveal the political direction imposed on the OPP. "The province will take steps to remove the occupiers ASAP...The OPP have the discretion as to how to remove the Stoney Pointers."
More recently, it has been revealed that Deb Hutton was given direction by Mike Harris to tell representatives at another emergency meeting, held only hours before Dudley's murder on September 6, that the Premier's instructions were, "Out of park only -- nothing else." This direction came after the OPP had stated to the press, "Our position is to control the situation and come to a peaceful resolution. We're not in a rush. We're not looking to ram anything through."
As Deane begins to serve his non-sentence, Mike Harris and the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario continue to evade their all too apparent role in the murder of Dudley George. While the decision to appeal Deane's sentence is one small victory in a long struggle, Harris will only use this opportunity to keep his silence -- Harris and others in his government continue to argue that they cannot comment on the events surrounding Dudley's murder because the matters are still before the courts. Harris and his pals can keep their silence for now, the truth will catch up with them.
In September 1995, the Stoney Pointers re-occupied territory formerly known as Ipperwash Provincial Park, after the park had closed for the season. They were protecting sacred burial grounds located there, which had been desecrated in the creation of the provincial park. There was a massive OPP build-up after the unarmed Stoney Point men, women and children entered Ipperwash Provincial Park, resulting in an attack on the Stoney Pointers and the shooting death of Dudley George on September 6, 1995.
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