Brant arrested, all hell breaks loose

Posted: April 26, 2008 in Headlines, Home Grown Terrorism in Canada, Natives, OPP, Terrorism

The Intelligencer

Several Mohawk protesters were arrested here Friday following a wild skirmish that ended in a tense, armed standoff.

Dozens of heavily-armed Ontario Provincial Police officers clashed with Mohawk protesters just north of the Thurlow Aggregates quarry, which Mohawks have been occupying for more than one year. The standoff began peacefully with officers and Mohawks talking quietly after the arrest earlier in the afternoon of Mohawk protest leader Shawn Brant on charges unrelated to Friday’s melee.

But the scene erupted in violence about one hour after the encounter began.

“If you wanna force this, we’ll force it,” protester Dan Doreen told police.

Moments later, a scuffle broke out, with police wrestling with protesters. Several arrests were made before police radios crackled a message that an armed individual was spotted taking aim at police and police jumped for cover behind cruisers, drawing automatic weapons and sidearms. No shots were fired, however, and protesters who had been arrested and handcuffed were taken away to waiting vehicles.

The wild turn of events began shortly after a protest spokesman agreed to answer questions for reporters.

Mohawk spokesperson Jerome Barnhart said the standoff unfolded after Brant was pulled over by OPP on Deseronto Road earlier in the afternoon. The traffic stop, Barnhart said, resulted in “a couple of charges. One was with a weapon – a spear – which is just blasphemous as this is our (fish) harvesting season here.”

“We feed our families for the year at this time and to confiscate that as a weapon is outrageous,” he said. “If Mr. (Julian) Fantino, (OPP commissioner) wants to go about it this way…. Well, we have a lot of reinforcements coming. Bring it on.”

Barnhart said the OPP were only trying to “put the screws” to the Mohawks to prevent those reinforcements from arriving.

Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte band council convened an emergency meeting Friday evening to discuss the turn of events, but Barnhart dismissed the authority of the band.

“This is Mohawk business. It has nothing to do with Mohawk band council. It’s the Mohawk people and the nation,” he said. “This is Mohawk nation business and we mean business.”

As Barnhart was meeting with reporters, OPP Staff Sgt. Steve Flynn informed the Mohawks if they remained on Deseronto Road they would be arrested. He advised them to return to the quarry or be charged and taken into custody.

“If you stay here you’ll be arrested. If you go back to the quarry you’ll have sanctuary,” Flynn said.

Flynn’s comments led many Mohawks making their way slowly toward the quarry, though some remained behind and hollered at the approximately 20 officers gathered at the intersection of Deseronto Road and Bridge Street.

“I can’t guarantee your officers safety if they come on Mohawk land,” one protester said.

As one woman walked past the officers, north to where her vehicle had been left parked, she looked toward police and said, “Get your guns ready.”

Moments later officers wrestled a number of protesters to the ground amid shouts of “stop resisting.” In a cacophony of shouts, jeers and orders, protesters told their family members to leave the scene, OPP officers shouted directions and protesters argued as they were handcuffed.

Just as quickly as the violence erupted Mohawks who had remained at the quarry responded. An all terrain vehicle carrying two individuals raced toward the scene and, seconds later, word spread among the officers that someone had a gun.

Officers took cover when radio messages on police channels said, “We believe we have a long gun aimed at us.”

Officers with sub-machine guns took aim at protesters both to the south and to the north where a motorhome was parked at the intersection of Deseronto Road and Lower Slash Road. Officers said they believed there was an individual with a gun inside the RV.

Officers attempted to ease the concerns of a woman who arrived on the scene frantically demanding to see her son. She screamed as she walked toward officers, crying.

“I wanna get my son,” she cried. “What the hell do you think you’re doing to us? What are you doing with those guns?”

The woman was assured “nobody’s been shot” and was led away from the scene by OPP.

By nightfall, an uneasy silence had descended on the scene as police widened a secure perimeter back some 500 metres from the quarry.

  1. Annie says:

    Nothing says ego, like Brant breaking his bail conditions. He just could not stand being out of the press. So much for his mother’s honour. This mess is sickening and no doubt we in Deseronto will continue to pay dearly for it. Hopefully, they will keep them in Jail this time. Finally even Maracle is saying people must be responsible for their actions. He should have kicked this group to the curb a long time ago. They do NOTHING to promote first nations issues, nor do they help the land claims process. Terrorizing neighbors will change relationships for generations to come.

  2. James says:

    They aren’t doing much fishing to feed their families are they. You can’t catch many fish on public roads.

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