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Protesters out on bail

Photo: Belleville Intelligencer

Photo: Belleville Intelligencer

Posted By W. BRICE MCVICAR
THE BELLEVILLE INTELLIGENCER [Ontario]
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A handful of protesters arrested late last week in connection to the Skyway Bridge blockade have been released on bail.

John Boots, Brendan McLaughlin and Benjamin Loft were all released on $1,000 bond with conditions not to associate with the others charged following Friday’s arrest and not to participate in “unlawful protests” following their bail hearings at the Ontario Court of Justice Monday. McLaughlin and Loft had been charged with mischief while Boots faced charges of mischief and assault.

The trio are among 13 individuals arrested late last week after a five-day blockade closed the Skyway Bridge connecting Deseronto to Prince Edward County.

Mohawk protester Shawn Brant also made a brief appearance in the courtroom where he was told he will remain in custody until June 22. Brant was charged with breach of conditions.

That courtroom was filled with approximately 75 supporters who cheered and applauded as each of the three released were welcomed by family and friends. Those supporters had marched from Market Square up Pinnacle Street to the Ontario Court of Justice to show their support for those who had been arrested.

“We’re just a few supporters who came up to show our support for the injustice that happened with our people,” Thomas Bruce Maracle said before the march began.

Maracle claimed Friday’s arrests were in contradiction to negotiations the protesters had been undertaking with police.

“They spilled Mohawk blood all over the highway,” he said. “They broke the peace, they broke their honour and they broke their word.”

Maracle said the police action has created “a whole new situation.” There is a great deal of anger among local Mohawks, he said, and the situation needs to be managed.

George Smart, who was also among the supporters, also pointed the finger at police for making the arrests prior to “proper discussions.”

“We’re here to say we should be able to exercise our authority and our rights on our territory,” Smart said.

Maracle, following the bail hearings, said the result was not what the people had wanted. He said the protesters should not have been arrested.

“We’re not happy that our people were incarcerated for standing up for what we believe in,” he said. “We were in a negotiating state with the community and the police were dishonourable.”

Further bail hearings are scheduled to take place later this week.

Paul VanHooser and Charles Kloestra, both charged with mischief and assault, will remain in custody until Wednesday when bail hearings are scheduled for the pair.

Terry Maracle, William Hartin, George Zachariah and Dave Barberstock were all released Friday after being arrested and charged with mischief.

Three youths have also been charged in connection to the matter.

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Akwesasne Counterspin
http://akwesasnecounterspin.wordpress.com/

Tyendinaga Support Committee
http://www.ocap.ca/supporttmt/index.html

No One Is Illegal – Montreal Update on Akwesasne
http://nooneisillegal-montreal.blogspot.com/2009/06/akwesasne-update.html

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Blockade comes to end

Posted By JEREMY ASHLEY AND W. BRICE MCVICAR,
THE BELLEVILLE INTELLIGENCER [Ontario]
Saturday, June 13, 2009

Motorists are once again able to cross the Skyway Bridge after protesters who had closed the Highway 49 fixed link for six days left the scene without incident.

It was just after 5 p. m. on Friday when the small blockade preventing vehicles from crossing the bridge was removed.

“We left on our own terms,” a female protester told The Intelligencer. “It’s contingent with our boys on bail and that’s all I can say.”

The protester was referring to 13 individuals who were arrested and charged at the protest scene early Friday morning. Napanee OPP detachment commander Pat Finnegan confirmed Shawn Brant was among those arrested.

It was at approximately 6:30 a. m. when the OPP’s Public Order Unit arrived at the scene and, after Tyendinaga Mohawk Police Service officers — who were in control of the scene throughout the protest — advised protesters they should move or be arrested, the OPP team moved in, police said.

During the arrests, police said a Tyendinaga Police Service officer sustained an injury to his hand and two protesters were taken to hospital with injuries. One was treated for a minor injury, the other remains at hospital complaining of back and shoulder pain.

“The decision to remove the protesters was a joint policing decision made after all other avenues to finding a resolution to the road closure were exhausted,” Sgt. Kristine Rae said.

By midmorning, police had assumed the original position the protesters held since Sunday evening in support of Akwesasne Mohawks.

That position was lost later in the morning, however, when as many as two dozen protesters blocked access to Bayshore Road, while others — namely native dissident Jerome Barnhart — loudly ordered media and the public away from the scene. A short time later the protesters resumed their original position and were again preventing vehicles from crossing the bridge.

Clad in camouflage and wearing white sneakers, Barnhart barreled across Highway 49 shortly after 8:30 a. m. barking orders that all media “should get away from here right now.”

“You need to leave right now, or else,” he said, his finger now pointing down the highway.

“The CBC is not allowed here and neither are you. Get the f–k out. And don’t be pulling off the road down there … we’re going to be watching you and where you go.”

A vehicle with individuals from the protest group followed the retreating reporter from the scene.

An OPP helicopter was circling the scene throughout the day and a police marine unit was nearby, Finnegan said.

There was a heavy police presence around the bridge, including several dozen officers and vehicles parked at the Picton Arena and another, smaller group of officers at Centennial Park in Deseronto.

Finnegan confirmed his concerns that if the bridge had remained closed during the weekend there could have been clashes between the protesters and people from neighbouring communities, including tourists.

He also said Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Chief R. Donald Maracle requested the OPP help the Tyendinaga Mohawk Police clear the bridge.

Meanwhile, support among Mohawks for the protesters in both Akwesasne and Tyendinaga — who are not all natives — appeared to have bottomed-out, according to sources on both reserves.

As many as 100 Mohawks from Tyendinaga who are opposed to Brant’s actions confronted him and his followers Thursday evening at the bridge site, demanding he and others remove themselves from the scene.

Also, earlier this week, The Intelligencer has learned, the Rooseveltown, New York, long house of the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs representing Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora peoples, — ‘Haudenosaunee’– formally asked Shawn Brant to remove the roadblock. The message was sent to Brant formally, through Tyendinaga police chief Ron Maracle.

The longhouse is considered the epicentre of the Mohawk community.

Brant had earlier claimed he had support of Akwsasne “clan mothers.”

As well, earlier this week representatives of the band council of Akwesasne — the elected native municipal leaders — voiced displeasure with Brant’s actions, claiming it could negatively impact the situation in their community.

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Mohawk police chief’s vehicle shot up

Posted By BELLEVILLE INTELLIGENCER STAFF [Ontario]
Saturday, June 13, 2009

Six bullets were pumped into the personal vehicle of Tyendinaga Mohawk Police Chief Ron Maracle, The Intelligencer has learned.

The incident occurred while the vehicle– a black Ford F-150 — was parked in the lot of the police station on York Road between 4:30 p. m. Thursday and 7:30 a. m. Friday.

Three of the windows of the vehicle were shot out and the body along the passenger side was riddled with holes.

At the time, Maracle was at the scene of a protest that had blocked the Skyway Bridge near Deseronto.

Police would not confirm suspicions the incident was linked to the blockade, however, a criminal investigation has been launched.

A resident whose home is in close proximity to the police station, said she did not hear any gunshots Thursday night. The incident, the woman said, is “frightening” as living so close to a police station would lead one to believe she is safe.

“It’s scary. I thought living here we’d be safe but that’s a little too close,” she said, adding she did not want to be identified.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at [stop snitchin’] or Crime Stoppers at [stop snitchin’].

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Six Nations Solidarity Action: “Native protesters cause highway chaos”

Photo The Spec

Photo: The Spec

June 11, 2009
Paul Morse
The Hamilton Spectator [Ontario]

A protest march by Six Nations natives snarled traffic along some of greater Hamilton’s busiest highways today.

Several dozen natives on foot and in cars proceeded along the Red Hill Valley Parkway, Linc and Highway 403 to Brantford to protest the arming of border guards on the Akwesasne reserve in eastern Ontario.

The Six Nations group of up to about a dozen on foot, followed by a small convoy of cars, walked onto the southbound Red Hill Valley Parkway shortly after 8 a.m. with half a dozen Hamilton police cruisers, a motorcycle cop and one marked OPP cruiser behind.

Hamilton police, who patrol the Red Hill and the Linc, say they were informed of the protest last night and decided it was in the best interest of everyone to allow it to happen.

“We took a balanced approach, working with them and the community,” said media officer Sergeant Terri-Lynn Collings.

“We wanted to make sure that, if it was going to take place, that it was done safely.”

Police escorted the natives up the fast lane of the parkway from Queenston Road, along the Linc, then west on 403 to Brantford, throwing traffic into chaos.

At times, traffic was backed up for kilometres.

Native spokesperson Jessie Anthony said women from Six Nations organized the protest yesterday after receiving a call for support from the Akwesasne reserve.

“We knew this was going to be a rolling blockade march to support what’s going on in Akwesasne.”

Spokesperson Dawn Smith said the Red Hill Valley falls within the Haldimand Tract.

“We chose to start at Queenston because it encompassed all the major highways that run along our territory.”

“It was because of the way the highways connect,” Anthony said. “It was more a decision on how many people we could reach to make them aware of the situation that’s going on in Akwesasne.”

The native marchers would not say if Hamilton is now on their radar for land-dispute protests.

“When we do this, we don’t pick an area and say ‘OK, we’re going to go and bother Hamilton or Brantford,’” Smith said.

“It depends on the situation, what is being developed and how it is going to affect our next seven generations,” Smith said.

The natives said Hamilton police expressed concerns about the march until they learned that protesters did not plan to block the highway completely.

Anthony said the arming of Canadian border guards on the reserve was tantamount to an armed occupation.

The natives also protested the closing of a bridge that connects the American and Canadian sides of the reserve.

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Mohawk protesters block Ontario bridge over arming of border guards

CBC News [Ontario]
Last Updated: Monday, June 8, 2009

Mohawk protesters block access to the Skyway Bridge, which spans the Bay of Quinte near Belleville, Ont., and links the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and Prince Edward County.  (Submitted by Christopher Clarke)

Mohawk protesters block access to the Skyway Bridge, which spans the Bay of Quinte near Belleville, Ont., and links the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and Prince Edward County. (Submitted by Christopher Clarke)

About 40 Mohawk protesters blocked a bridge in eastern Ontario Sunday evening in support of a nearby First Nations community engaged in a standoff with the federal government over the arming of border guards.

Protesters blocked either side of the Skyway bridge, which spans the Bay of Quinte near Belleville, Ont., and links the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and Prince Edward County.

Shawn Brant, a well-known activist in Tyendinaga, helped organize the blockade. Brant and other Mohawks plan to stay on the bridge until the federal government makes a commitment to hold what they describe as meaningful talks with Mohawks in Akwesasne. The Akwesasne territory is located near Cornwall, Ont., east of Kingston.

(CBC)

(CBC)

Talks between Mohawk officials from the Akwesasne and the Canada Border Services Agency broke down last weekend over the issue of arming guards assigned to posts on Cornwall island, which is in the middle of Akwesasne, a territory that straddles Quebec, Ontario and New York state.

The border guards in Cornwall were set to start carrying 9-mm handguns last Monday, under a new federal policy enacted across the country. Instead, guards left their posts at midnight last Sunday, citing safety concerns, after hundreds of Mohawks set up camp near the border to protest the gun policy.

Canadian authorities then shut down the Seaway International Bridge into the United States at Cornwall last Monday. The bridge, which spans the St. Lawrence River, handles about 2.4 million crossings annually.

Possibility of closure

A boy joins Mohawk protesters at their demonstration. (Submitted by Christopher Clarke)

A boy joins Mohawk protesters at their demonstration. (Submitted by Christopher Clarke)

For the time being, travellers have been advised to use a point of entry at Prescott, which is 60 kilometres west, or the Dundee crossing, which is 17 kilometres southeast.

The Akwasasne protesters are angry about guards being allowed to carry guns, because they say it violates their sovereignty, and increases the likelihood of violent confrontations.

The federal public safety minister said Sunday the border crossing might be shut permanently unless Mohawk leaders accept a decision to arm border guards.

Peter Van Loan told CTV’s Question Period the government is examining all options, including moving the port of entry.

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Updates from No One Is Illegal – Montreal and links to corporate news articles

Mohawks gather near the Seaway International Bridge to protest the arming of border guards (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC)

Mohawks gather near the Seaway International Bridge to protest the arming of border guards (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC)

Update – 5:35am
Monday, June 1, 2009

— CBSA guards abandon posts
— Seaway International Bridge is blocked to vehicular traffic by police
— Protesters maintain presence at border crossing

Dawn is breaking on the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne, where local residents have protested for months to oppose the arming of Canadian Borders Services Agency (CBSA) guards on their territory. More than 50 protesters are maintaining a presence near the Canadian customs building on Cornwall Island. There are at least five fires burning to keep demonstrators warm. Many more residents and supporters are expected to be on-site as the morning progresses.

According to residents of Akwesasne (as well as mainstream media reports), CBSA border agents abandoned their posts just before midnight, out of fear of reprisals from the community. CBSA agents were due to be armed at the Port of Cornwall crossing on June 1, a policy universally opposed and condemned by the Akwesasne Mohawk Community.

Vehicular traffic onto the Seaway International Bridge has been shut down by police on both sides of the border, although pedestrians are still being allowed to access the bridge.

The Mohawk territory of Akwesasne straddles the jurisdictions of Ontario, Quebec and New York State, and is a major international border crossing between Canada and the United States. CBSA guards began arming in 2007, and there are currently more than 800 armed CBSA guards across Canada. The entire CBSA aims to be armed, in stages, by 2016. The CBSA announced that their agents at the Port of Cornwall would be armed by June 1 of this year.

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Mohawks march on border in protest of arming guards

Posted By Michael Peeling
Cornwall Standard Freeholder [Ontario]
Monday, May 11, 2009

Hundreds of Mohawks marched across the Seaway International Bridge into Canada from the U. S. on Saturday to protest a plan to arm border guards.

And things are taking a more ominous tone as the protesters claim they’ll evict the federal government if necessary over the controversial issue.

The “unity rally,” organized by the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, started with residents of the First Nation – which straddles the borders of Ontario, Quebec and New York State – being bused from a tent set up beside the Canada Customs and Immigration office on Cornwall Island (known in Mohawk as Kawehnoke) into the U. S.

The tent is the staging ground for a month-long protest, which began on May 1, of the arming of Canadian Border Services Agency officers across the country on June 1, but particularly at the Cornwall Island crossing.

The protesters returned on foot led by Grand Chief Tim Thompson. They walked over the southern span of the bridge to the island behind a large banner reading “No Guns!” and chanting, “End the occupation of Akwesasne.”

Once the throng reached the yellow line indicating the border, they halted briefly before walking unchecked by CBSA officials into Canada. Many of the marchers made a circuit back around the customs and immigration building to stop by the checkpoint booths and office windows, where they chant, with signs reading: “The consequence of arming is eviction” against the windows and knock on the glass.

The protesters eventually marched back to the tent. An attempt to make a third circuit was met with little support.

MCA District Chief of Kanatakon (St. Regis, Que.) Larry King said the council worked out a safe passage for the protesters with the CBSA before the march.

“We’re marching to tell the federal government how strongly we feel about the message of no guns on our island,” King said. “There’s no need and no reason for the guards to have guns.”

King pointed out that Akwesasne Mohawk Police officers are armed and have an outpost at the border crossing if CBSA officials require assistance.

There are also unarmed Mohawk security officers contracted by the federal government to be stationed in the same building at all times.

The Mohawks of Akwesasne make up more than 70 per cent of the cross-border traffic at the Cornwall Island port of entry and feel they are unfairly singled out by border guards to be harassed and provoked into confrontations.

Community elder John Boots told of how his granddaughter, her boyfriend and their three children were pulled over at the border because the officers did not believe the one, two and four-year-olds were their children. She was still waiting to get their native status identification cards.

“The guards interrogated my great grandchildren to find out if my granddaughter is their mother,” Boots said. “How insensitive is that? One of them can’t even talk.”

Boots also said the CBSA attempted to brand a 14-year-old girl a terrorist and strip-searched her recently.

He added that the community is looking into getting help from the United Nations to address tensions with the CBSA.

MCA spokesman Brendan White says the council has a long list of complaints filed by tribe members over dealings with the CBSA, but none of them have been resolved to the complainants’ satisfaction by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

MCA spokesman Brendan White said the government never consulted with Akwesasne about the arming initiative, which was announced three years ago and is due to be complete by 2016.

White said a letter sent to past Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and requests to meeting current minister Peter Van Loan have been met with little or no response.

Thompson said Day refused to meet with the MCA over the arming issue.

“The time has come to express our displeasure over the arming of the guards,” Thompson said.

The march was not the end of the protest, said Thompson as he addressed the crowd. There are tentative plans for another rally in the coming weeks.

Rick Comerford, director general for the Northern Ontario Region of the CBSA, released a statement Saturday in response to the protest.

“The decision to arm border services officers ensures that they are given the tools they need to improve border security and enhance the safety of officers and the travelling public. Training and arming our officers to respond to potentially dangerous situations helps protect our communities.”

Comerford said he and CBSA president Stephen Rigby have met with the MCA to discuss the arming of border services officers at the Port of Cornwall as recently as May 4.

“We are committed to maintaining this dialogue,” Comerford said.

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On the role of Canada’s colonial band councils, such as the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, see the following article:

How the Indian Act Made Indians Act Like Indian Act Indians (Warrior Publications)

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