Site 41 Arrests Point to ‘Disturbing’ Trend of Criminalizing Legitimate Protest, Warns CUPE Ontario President
Toronto, Ontario (Aug. 10, 2009) – The arrests of several elderly Simcoe County residents earlier this week for demonstrating in opposition to the proposed Site 41 dump site is a ‘disturbing’ example of public officials and police criminalizing political dissent, warns Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario President Sid Ryan.”The fact that police are compiling lists of ‘troublemakers’ who are in their 60s, 70s and 80s and ordering them to report to police headquarters to have charges laid against them is more than just disturbing, it’s positively chilling,” said Ryan.
“Their only ‘crime’ has been speaking out and protesting against a potential environmental catastrophe the County is determined to railroad through an unwilling community,” he added.
On Tuesday, several opponents of the proposed dump site, ranging in age from 35 to 82, were notified by Ontario Provincial Police to report to various police detachments, where they were subsequently charged with Mischief.
These individuals have taken part in a blockade of the proposed dump site in Tiny Township, along with hundreds and sometimes thousands of supporters who fear the impact of placing a landfill atop the Alliston Aquifer, one of the purest sources of water on the planet. This direct action to protect the aquifer’s environmental integrity has been spearheaded by the Beausoleil First Nation and supported by the Council of Canadians, CUPE Ontario and other community partners.
On June 26, 2007, Simcoe County Council passed a motion by a vote of 16 to 15 (one Councillor, an AGAINST position-holder, was absent on the day the vote was taken) to direct staff to begin preliminary on-site construction of Site 41.
The Ontario government claims to be moving the province “toward a zero-waste future” and yet has approved the building of a dump site on top of one of the world’s purest reserves of water. The Alliston Aquifer has been scientifically determined to be one of the cleanest sources of freshwater in the world and Premier McGuinty is complicit in its potential contamination.
The latest actions to help stop the building of Dump Site 41 will be planned at the No Water to Waste Panel Discussion and Forum, Thursday, August 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the University of Toronto Medical Sciences Building, Macleod Auditorium, Room 2158.
On August 13 and 14, the Council of Canadians and concerned residents will be at Barrie Courthouse to hear the Court’s decision as to whether the landfill construction is legal and whether proper First Nations consultation has occurred.
Said Ryan, “Slapping mischief charges on retirees who feel they have a moral obligation to oppose this project, and arresting others who have been peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, smacks of intimidation.”
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