Deseronto homeowners tired of ongoing blockades, protests

Posted: April 22, 2008 in Deseronto, Headlines, Land claims, Natives

Belleville Intelligencer

Homeowners here have grown tired of blockades and protests and were once again expressing frustration as Mohawk protesters erected a blockade along Old Highway 2 at the town’s eastern limit.

Images of last year’s Day of Action – which closed Highway 401 and rail lines in the area – are still fresh in the minds of many who live here. For sale signs mark the town like pieces on a Monopoly board and residents who spoke with The Intelligencer said they would sell but the land value has dropped because of native protests and land claims.

“This is not going to be good for real estate value,” said a Thomas Street resident, his home only a block away from the barricade. “I just moved here in February and I wouldn’t have bought it had I known all about this.”

There’s also fear beneath many residents’ frustration – some refused to give their names after commenting. The Thomas Street resident, for example, would only speak providing his name not be used.

“I don’t want to be pointed out,” he said.

Not far away, standing on the porch of the house she has called home for 48 years, a 75-year-old woman said she too wouldn’t want to be identified. She said she was scared of “retaliation” from the protesters who were vowing to stay camped out on Old Highway 2 for the remainder of the week.

“I live too close to the action,” she said. “We just learned that we’re on Indian land two years ago.”

The woman said her home is supposedly built on land which belongs to the Mohawks and she has considered selling but knows it would be at a low price. It’s not worth it, she said.

The blockade wasn’t bothering Main Street homeowner Garnet Hare. Hare was loading up his RV and leaving the town.

“I’m going fishing for as long as those guys are down there,” Hare said. “I don’t want to put up with that.”

Hare has lived in his house for three years and shrugged off Monday’s blockade. He said he’s tired of the unrest but found the latest event “a joke.”

“Everyone’s laughing at those characters,” he said. “Everyone’s making jokes about them up at the store.”

There were no jokes being made by James Webb as he sat on the front step of his Mai Street house. Webb, who has lived in Deseronto for 30 years, said the protests are becoming too common and he’s lost any patience he had.

“What gives them the authority to block that road? This is bullshit as far as I’m concerned. It’s already in the government’s hands so just let it be done. This doesn’t do any good,” Webb said.

Webb said he does not understand why the natives can block a road and prevent traffic from passing and not be arrested. He said if he were the one to do it, the police would immediately lock him up.

Chris Kerr, co-owner of Tommy’s Pizza and Wings, said he knows a lot of the protesters and considers them friends but he doesn’t always agree with their tactics. Monday’s protest, however, wasn’t having a negative impact on his business.

In fact, he said with a chuckle, it was the opposite.

“It’s helping our business because no one’s leaving town and they’re coming here,” Kerr said. “(The protesters) ordered four extra large pizzas and we delivered them to them.”

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