November 27, 2007
The ongoing protest known as Dougs Smokes by Caledonia resident Doug Flemming of the illegal Native smoke shacks on highway 6 outside of Caledonia have been an effort on his part to be arrested or at least shut down by the OPP so that they would have to deal with the bigger issue of Natives illegally selling tobacco off of the reserve.
Several times, Doug has set up his smoke shop on the property owned by Chris Syrie that is adjacent to DCE.
The OPP made every effort not to address the issue by ignoring Doug, ignoring those who called 911 to report his illegal smoke shop, and taking 40 minutes to respond to the scene when a Native from DCE nearly ran over Gary McHale. While investigating the incident only a few feet from the smoke shop, at least one officer was approached by Doug who tried to sell him illegal cigarettes. His response was “I don’t smoke”
In a humorous move, the OPP issued the following press release 2 days later:
“CALEDONIA – OPP are asking anyone who witnessed two incidents near the former Douglas Creek estate lands this morning to come forward.
Const. Paula Wright said police are investigating the alleged sale of cigarettes without a permit on a vacant lot.
The site is a dozen metres from the edge of the Douglas Creek land and has a sign advertising cigarettes posted facing the road. A trailer, which was vacant as of early afternoon, is also on the overgrown lot.
Wright also said police are looking a report that someone was allegedly nearly hit by a car on Argyle Street South.
Wright would not say if police shut the shop down.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 1-888-310-1122.”
At least one attempt to humor the OPP by calling as requested and giving them all of the details of the “alleged” smoke shop were met with heavy resistance to even taking down the information they had requested.
The next weekend, Doug moved his shop to the parking lot of the OPP detachment in Caledonia and was approached by officers who explained to him that they do not have jurisdiction over the illegal sale of tobacco, but asked if he would mind going away. When he refused, they left him alone but not before the Hamilton Spectator got a great picture of Doug selling a carton of smokes with an OPP officer watching and smiling from a few feet away.
The next weekend he set up shop downtown in front of a bank and the OPP thought they spotted their chance to move in and close him down without having to touch the illegal Native shacks. He started giving away free root beer with the purchase of 3 cartons of smokes and the officers threatened to shut him down for illegally selling alcohol, but did nothing.
Doug refused to back down and went so far as to take his protest to one of the illegal shacks on highway 6, where the OPP showed up to keep the peace between all parties and again refused to shut him down.
Having proven his point that day as best he could, Doug re opened his shop on the Syrie property the following weekend and was once again ignored by the OPP. They did however make one attempt to shut him down by approaching Chris Syrie and threatening that he may be held liable for anything that happens on his property.
With another unique protest planned for this weekend, it will be interesting to see who the OPP approach and try to intimidate. The one thing we can say with a great deal of certainty is that it won’t be Doug Flemming.Jeff Parkinson Caledonia Wakeup Call Jeff@CaledoniaWakeupCall.com