Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Further Insights into the Process Adopted by the OPP During the Weekend Closure of Highway 6

Timing is everything in comedy and life.  Alas, I did not arrive early enough to witness the following interaction between a female Sergeant of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and a member of Men's Fire (affiliated with the Hereditary Confederacy Chiefs Council) who showed complete disdain and disrespect for the laws that keep our society running in an orderly and safe fashion.  He became a sterling advocate for "make up your own laws that suit your particular purposes" and "deny the legitimacy of the laws of Canada and Ontario", pretending that they do not apply to him because he is a member of a designated group.  This is sheer anarchy, and his actions are those of an anarchist.  The specifics of what took place are reported in "Tow Row Times" of 8 October 2014 here, under the title, Highway #6 demonstration ends peacefully.

Here is what happened on Saturday, at the very beginning of the protest blocking Highway 6 at 4th Line:

There was some tension initially when OPP Sgt. Belynda Rose read a segment of the Ontario traffic law to Men’s Fire member [the Men's Fire spokesman] in the middle of the closed highway, informing him that he and others could be charged should they not remove themselves from the road.

“We are here in support of the issue of the missing and murdered Indigenous women,” [the Men's Fire spokesperson] told Sgt. Rose. “It’s been months and years and still nobody is dealing with it.”

He then turned to what he believes is his authority and duty to protect his people.

“My Great Law, the Gayanashagowa, says I am entitled to do what I need to do to bring this awareness to what is going on in this country against our Aboriginal women. That is why we are here,” he told her. “If you have an issue (with this blockade) take it to your government and tell them. This is only for today and tomorrow. The next time it might be indefinitely.”

Sgt. Rose continued to try and persuade [the Men's Fire spokesman] and the 60 or more people with him to stand down, but to no avail.

“Be patient with us, and remind yourselves, of who you are and who we are,” [the Men's Fire spokesman] respectfully but firmly responded. “Because this road you are standing on is called Plank Road and it is owned by us, not by your local, provincial or federal governments. It is our land.”

Rose told [the Men's Fire spokesman], “I am asking you politely to move off the highway. We are here for your safety. You can find a better way of making your point that blocking Highway #6.” [the Men's Fire spokesman] responded, “I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself. If your government and if your cops can prove to me that there is a better way of doing this, show me. Then I wouldn’t need to be here away from my family. What about the families of the women who are missing and murdered, how do they feel? Nobody seems to give a shit about them. But you’re worried about a highway that don’t mean nothing. We are talking about the lives of our women.”

Assessment:  My take on this interaction is that Sgt. Rose, an OPP officer who I have come to respect because of her calm approach and professionalism - even under the most endurance testing of circumstances, was following protocol.  She attempted to "talk some sense" into the representative of Men's Fire - and individual who does not have any of my respect.  Men's Fire were on the forefront of fighting the installation of industrial wind turbines in Haldimand County, and for example the removal of an eagle's nest.  All this environmental concern went out the window when cash payments were offered by NextEra and Samsung - duly accepted and showing where their true allegiances lie.    The Men's Fire spokesperson, in addition to disrespecting the law, also told a FABRICATION - that the Plank Road lands (which includes Highway 6) belonged to Six Nations.  In FACT they were surrendered by 47 Chiefs in Council on 14 December 1844 (170 years ago) as the Federal Government has determined.  This fact is not disputed by the Six Nations Elected Council,  and the land surrender is recorded with all 47 Chief's signatures in the documents which are in my possession. 

So the Men's Fire representative had no legal leg to stand on, but knew that if he stood his ground, it would be difficult for the OPP to simply call in the paddy wagons and arrest him.  This approach by the OPP has been tried before (e.g., 22 April 2006) and failed - because the spokesman is only a single phone call from a group of thugs that would be only too willing to file down the open 4th Line directly (unimpeded) to the blockade site and set up a confrontation with the OPP.  The OPP know that while local residents would support them to the hilt because local people know the issues, the public at large may actually sympathize with the "aboriginal people" who have been successful in claiming victim status due to years of "colonialism", etc.  Perception is reality, irrespective of, and independent of, the truth.

Hence in this case the actions of the OPP can be supported as those best designed to "keep the peace".  Unfortunately, if Men's Fire members are not charged under the civil or criminal laws of Canada, another message will be sent out that there is one law for "Natives" and another law for "non-Natives" since it is absolutely certain that if local Haldimand residents blocked Highway 6 for any reason, they would have been arrested.  These arrests have happened in the past, and would have been applied on the 4th and 5th of October had they conducted the precise same actions perpetrated by Men's Fire.  While I may understand the rationale for the behavior of the OPP, they will simply have to bring charges against the members of Men's Fire who disobeyed a direct order based on the laws of the land - or lose all credibility.  The quote above indicates that they were told that they would be charged.  A difficult matter to be sure, but if it is not done now the fall out in terms of retaining any credibility with the residents of Haldimand County will be jeopardized.  Hence the message would be that once again our Provincial Police have allowed anarchy to prevail and the laws to be broken and unpunished for this one segment of the population who have no more rights than any other citizen (despite their own skewed beliefs).

It will be interesting to see what unfolds here, and whether Men's Fire follow through with their threat to close down Highway 6 "indefinitely" and how this will be handled by the OPP.  What a thankless job in Haldimand County where in a sense you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.  It makes sense that the only answer is to apply the law equally to all, irrespective of ethnicity.


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