July 12, 2009
After 31 months, 4 arrests, and almost $1 Million spent trying to stop a Canadian flag from being raised on a Canadian hydro pole, the OPP finally relented today and allowed Non Natives to have the same rights as Natives in Caledonia, if only for a brief time. Why they did it is questionable, but I would submit that our intention to come back once each month until they stopped interfering had a lot to do with their decision.
In any case, Caledonia resident Doug Flemming was able to climb a ladder and attach a Canadian flag to a hydro pole across from DCE without interference from the OPP, or the Native occupiers, and the flag raising events in Caledonia have come to an end. The timing couldn’t be better as we have an abundance of other issues to focus on such as illegal smoke shacks and using private prosecution to hold senior officials accountable for their actions over the past few years.
The resources that the OPP have poured into stopping us from putting a flag up over the past 31 months have been staggering and their excuses for doing so have varied, but always come back to the same basic idea. The world will end if we’re allowed to exercise our rights. It was perhaps an anti climactic finish to an event that began in 2006, but we could not have asked for a much more fitting ending.
After a failed attempt to have us ask the Natives for permission to hang a flag on what they claim is their land (a provincial highway), the OPP had just a few token officers there to watch as we finally raised the flag. A very dedicated group of residents walked with us from the Lions Hall down to the forbidden hydro pole, and watched with pride as their flag went up. The handful of Natives that had gathered earlier at DCE to watch left once they learned that we would not be stopped and would not bow to them and ask permission.
For an event that the OPP have stated could not be allowed due to public safety concerns, it was very quiet. The only person who showed up from the Native side was Timmer who was exceptionally quiet and well behaved for the first time in years as he watched from across the street giving us a thumbs up.
The flag raising events began on December 02, 2006 when the OPP arrested Caledonia resident Bo Chausse as he tried to hang a flag across from DCE in an event organized by Caledonia resident Rick Vanderwick. Bo was never charged with anything as he had done no wrong, but the OPP concocted a press release accusing him of being childish and of trespassing at a Church across the street. There was no trespassing, but the game of trying to smear the name of anyone willing to stand up to race based policing was on as Julian Fantino had taken over the OPP.
On December 16, 2006 Gary McHale and Mark Vandermaas were arrested to prevent the hanging of a flag, and on May 24 2009 Randy Flemming fell victim to a brutal arrest for believing that he too had the right that the Supreme Court of Canada gave him to hang a flag on a hydro pole.
Those of us who were there will never forget January 20, 2007 when Fantino sent in the London Riot Squad, hundreds of officers, and attended Caledonia personally to ensure that no flag would be raised. It was an incredible scene not dissimilar to the tactics the OPP used on May 24, 2009 (bringing in reinforcements and a chopper) to stop us from doing what we did today.
Video of this historic event is available here, and as promised, CANACE will not organize any more flag raising events on Argyle Street in Caledonia unless the OPP arrest another person for trying to raise one.
The message sent today was loud and clear: Peaceful resistance to tyranny does work. It may take longer than some would like, but the results will be lasting which is much more than can be said for reactionary, violent protests that leave only scars behind them.