Well, will wonders never cease. Only days ago I was railing on about the ineffectiveness of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and the fact that since 2006 none of us in the Caledonia area can be sure whether when we dial 911 that anyone will come to our assistance. Around here police responsiveness is a function of, for example, how agitated members of the Six Nations community happen to be - or so it seems. Since the Ipperwash Inquiry, and the recommendations coming from the resulting report which paints "Natives" (status Indians) as victims, the OPP have thrown away the policy and procedures manual that is supposed to apply equally to citizens throughout Ontario. In the Caledonia area, proximal to the Six Nations Reserve, the OPP have adopted what is known as a "peacekeeper" role, in place since the riots at the south end of Caledonia which began 28 February 2006. Thus for the past 8 years residents of Caledonia (as well as Haldimand and Brant Counties) have been guinea pigs in an experiment that has been an abject failure - although the Native agitators and their White solidarity supporters are fine with it. So locally, if you are Native (largely status Six Nations members) you could expect to be treated with kid gloves, while those citizens classified as non-Native could expect to have the full weight of the law thrown against them. It is not fair, it is not even remotely reasonable in any democracy, but for 8 years that has been the status quo hereabouts. The details, including some excellent examples, can be found in Gary McHale, Victory in the No-Go Zone: Winning the Fight Against Two-Tier Policing, Toronto, Freedom Press, 2013. In one day (Sunday 8 June 2014), within the span of one hour, due to an assault on Mr. McHale, all that has changed. Allow me to explain.
On 8 June 2014 I had planned to attend a rally organized by Gary McHale and CANACE (Canadians for Charter Equality) in order to purchase a book that would be available there - Daniel Dickin, Liars: The McGuinty - Wynne Record, Toronto, Freedom Press, 2014. I knew that it would be touching on subjects important to myself and other residents of Haldimand County. I expected that it would chronicle the failures of the Liberal Government in Haldimand County, including not only their response to the theft of private property in Caledonia by Six Nations members, but also the fall out of their destructive Green Energy Act of 2009 which is literally chewing up our rural landscape with useless wind turbines.
Due to rain, the event had to be cancelled. Disappointing, but little did I know at the time, history was about to be made. Gary McHale and a photographer went to Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) to exercise their right to walk on a public road. As background, the DCE property, although it was legally surrendered by 67 Chiefs of the Six Nations in Council in 1844 (170 years ago), and registered since then in the Ontario Land Registry system without any liens, DCE is claimed as unceded land by Six Nations (the evidence as to these facts having been discussed in many previous postings on this blog). Objective reality is either ignored or of no concern to those involved in what they term the "reclamation" - while it could better be described as theft. It was taken by force in April 2006 by Six Nations (largely members of the Confederacy or Hereditary Council supporters), complete with violent acts of anarchy such as demolishing a Hydro One transmission tower to block Argyll Street, burning the Stirling Street Bridge, destroying a Hydro One substation plunging the area of Caledonia and Six Nations into darkness, assaulting police officers. The occupation and horrific deeds perpetrated against citizens who lived nearest to DCE (e.g., an assault against a resident in his home resulting in permanent brain damage) resulted in the Ontario Government quietly shelling out over $15 million to the legal owners of the development to keep the land in limbo, likely so that they could sweep the matter under the carpet indefinitely. An excellent and factual compendium of the sufferings of the residents of Caledonia and surrounds, as well as the responses of the OPP and the Liberal Government, can be found in Christie Blatchford, Helpless: Caledonia's Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us, Toronto, Doubleday Canada, 2010.
Since 2006 the land has been "designated" as Six Nations land by the occupiers (despite the evidence - which carries no weight to uninformed "activists") - complete with a "Welcome to Six Nations" sign to help legitimize (in the minds of many at Six Nations) the occupation. Despite the objective fact that the land belongs to the Provincial Government, and Six Nations has no legitimate legal claim to the property, many Natives persist in living in a fantasy where the land belongs to the Six Nations - by virtue of this or that imagined right or entitlement. What is tremendously galling to many is that the Ontario Government continues to pay the taxes and fund the infrastructure which allows the Six Nations occupiers to reside there in comfort - at taxpayers expense. Many here appear to be poorly educated and unemployed (this latter "status" allowing them to arrive on scene at a moment's notice), but strut around with a sense of entitlement worn as a chip on their shoulder, and an attitude that "because I believe it so, it must be so". No one in government at any level except local municipal officials has done anything to advance the issue and attempt to find some sort of resolution - in part because they have run into the brick wall of factionalism where you have to get approval of both the Hereditary and Elected groups, but they are not on speaking terms, but are ready to blame the government for "inaction". So the ugly stains of the 2006 occupation such as the Hydro One tower barricade (cut in two to form an "entrance way" to the site) and the burned out big rig trailer, are still situated as they were 8 years ago, and somehow this is ok for the self proclaimed "custodians of the land" (despite the obvious hypocrisy).
So on Sunday Gary McHale exercised his right to walk on a public roadway, and was challenged near the one house left standing on the Provincially owned DCE site (all the others have been trashed). See here for a description and videos of what happened. In summary, JG, a very well known activist walked out to "greet" Mr. McHale and attempted to block his movements. What can be seen in the video taken at the time of the encounter is the situation escalating very quickly, and JG shoving Mr. McHale - which is an act of assault. Mr. McHale immediately initiated a citizen's arrest (all perfectly legal in Ontario), someone called 911, and within a very short time (apparently under 10 minutes) two OPP officers arrived on the scene. Mr. McHale showed them the video, and, to many of us in Caledonia what followed next is something not seen in 8 years - the OPP officers doing their duty without regard to the racial - ethnic make up of the perpetrator. They immediately walked over to JG and informed him that he was under arrest. This did not go over at all well - it must have been an immense surprise that the OPP were challenging a Native without the usual cadre of Native Liaison Officers and support staff. Frankly, my jaw dropped. These officers never raised their voices, were consistently polite despite the boorish and immature behavior of the perpetrator. Non compliance was met with a warning, then a take down with JG being forced to the ground (in as gentle but firm a manner as possible). The officers were entirely professional, and followed through with each warning. Eventually JG refused to walk to the OPP cruiser so was lifted there by two officers while curses flowed freely, as did assertions of "you have no jurisdiction here" and "this is Six Nations land" (along with a lot of words beginning with the letter "f"). The officers calmly said that they will talk about that later, but the handcuffed JG simply would not get in the car without an embarrassing display of the sort of trailer park behavior one expects to see on COPS - here clearly resisting arrest. Finally JG was delicately "fit" into the cruiser and one of the other Natives present challenged the OPP, who then asked Mr. McHale whether this individual had tried to disrupt the citizen's arrest. The answer was no, so the OPP drove off with JG on his way to the Cayuga OPP detachment for processing.
I could not be more proud of our Provincial police force in this instance. They did their duty with professionalism and without any hesitation. Has there been a policy change at the OPP, or was this simply a case of officers, as is their right, deciding to act in accordance with the law and effecting an arrest based on the evidence seen in the video? JG was adamant that he could not be arrested because of a video. Alas for him, he was wrong.
Kudos OPP, and in particular the two officers who effected a "by the numbers" take down showing the utmost concern for the welfare of the person being arrested. It doesn't get any better than this. Also, thanks to Gary McHale for his unrelenting stance on challenging the "peacekeeper" role of the OPP that is a legacy of the Ipperwash Inquiry; and his actions in support of the belief in one law, applied equally, for all citizens.
What will be interesting to see is the reaction at Six Nations once the news becomes widely known - probably via the two Reserve newspapers which are published on Wednesdays. I trust that most realize that what happened was an example of the law being applied fairly and based on the clear evidence that an assault had occurred. I have reviewed the video multiple times and it would be impossible to fault the officers. What I expect to see is the hard liners questioning the jurisdiction of the OPP at the DCE. Again, since it is Provincial land, of that there can be no question, the OPP has every right, and the duty, to enforce the law here - especially since the Six Nations Police have kept their distance, and at any rate work cooperatively with the OPP in effecting law enforcement in the area.