Riot police on standby as OPP takes no "nonsense" stance at Ont. land occupation

By Gregory Bonnell

CALEDONIA, Ont. (CP) - Provincial police officers holding the middle ground in a standoff between aboriginals occupying a former housing development and non-aboriginal protesters turned their police line toward Six Nations residents Saturday for the first time since a raid of the contested land last spring.

A tense situation in which some 150 aboriginals stood only metres away from, and jeered, a dozen Canadian-flag waving protesters in this southern Ontario community saw some two dozen police in full riot gear on standby.

While numerous standoffs between Six Nations residents and non-aboriginals protesting the occupation in Caledonia have been characterized by police holding the non-aboriginals at bay, officers turned their backs on that group Saturday to instead focus on the occupiers.

"We face whatever direction we feel is necessary to deal with the issues, our main purpose is to keep the peace and that's what we'll do," said Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino.

"Leave the peacekeeping to us . . . we expect that (the aboriginals) not engage, no matter what happens."

Fantino, who met with Six Nations residents at the occupation site Saturday and assured them police would handle the demonstration, reserved his harshest words for the out-of-town activists who descended on Caledonia.

"We're prepared to deal with these people in a way that we will preserve public safety . . . and officer safety," Fantino said from an old schoolhouse on the outskirts of town that serves as a police command centre.

"All of this is so counterproductive . . . we wish they would just stay home."

Six Nations, who are currently in negotiations with the government over the contested land, began their occupation last February.

The occupation then took a dramatic turn in April when police raided the site, only to be pushed back by a flood of additional protesters from the reserve who quickly barricaded the town's main road and railway lines.

Only days later, the first of a number of rallies orchestrated by non-aboriginals forced police to change their focus to keeping the non-aboriginals from storming the site.

Fantino has made it clear the force will not tolerate lawlessness, from either side, in Caledonia.

"For too long the police have been pushed around, criticized and demeaned and all the time we're the ones keeping the peace here so, no, we're not going to take any nonsense," he said.

Saturday's protest, which began with some 100 non-aboriginals but dwindled in number as the day wore on, culminated in organizers placing a Canadian flag across the road from the aboriginal occupation.

The flag, which was later taken down by police and returned to its owner, was placed beside another Canadian flag that Six Nations residents had erected the day before along with an American flag and traditional aboriginal ones.

Police said there were no arrests made.
I'm glad Fantino is top dog now. Now we'll see some real policing going on.

As I have made clear many times, many, if not all of the confrontations that have led to further civil unrest and in some cases, out right terrorist activities by the Six Nations protesters, has been set in motion by outside aggitators.

McHale is a goof, he can say all he wants about why he is orcestrating these marches, but in some of his commentary, I feel his underlying cause is purely racially motivated.

Has anyone noticed how quite it's heen in Caledonia as of late, well until McHale wanted to stir things up?