Update: Tense Standoff Continues in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
Shawn Brant Arrested on Trumped-Up Charges Once Again
**please note that circumstances on the ground continue to change constantly, so full updates are not possible at this time **
DETAILS FOR TORONTO SUPPORT DEMONSTRATION BELOW: COME OUT ON TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 2008 AT NOON TO 720 BAY STREETAfter a tense exchange this morning, in which the OPP informed Mohawk spokesperson Jason Maracle to get people out of the area or they would come in, the OPP instead disbanded a Mohawk roadblock erected on the perimetre of the reclaimed quarry site. This psychological warfare on the part of the police resulted in a tense face-off between the OPP and community members. At present, the OPP has removed one of the roadblocks on the Slash Road and pulled back, but remains present in the direct vicinity of the quarry in great numbers. At the centre of the dispute is the Culbertson Tract, land which rightfully belongs to the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. Community members have been occupying a gravel quarry site for over a year.
In addition, a blockade of Highway 6, taken in support of the Tyendinaga Mohawks, continues by people of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. Six Nations community members have said they will remove the Highway 6 bypass blockade once they receive confirmation the OPP have withdrawn from the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. The road is now barricaded with a downed hydro tower, wires and a telephone pole.
Important to note is that, despite the reporting in mainstream press, Mohawk spokesperson Shawn Brant’s arrest on Friday, April 25th stems from an incident which took place on Monday April 21st. Specifically, Shawn Brant has been charged for his role in allegedly preventing further attacks on a woman from Tyendinaga and a young child by racist rednecks from the town of Deseronto.
These new charges were laid less than two weeks after Shawn Brant was acquitted of charges alleging that he threated Canadian Forces soldiers during a demonstration to prevent development of the Culberston Tract in 2006.
Once again, for his role as a spokesperson in the community, Shawn Brant is facing trumped-up charges. Arrested during an interview he was conducting with APTN, Shawn’s final words during his arrest on Friday were “This is it, justice for first nations communities: lock us up. Anybody who speaks out, lock-em up. KI6, Bob Lovelace: lock-em up…Don’t fix the problems, lock-em up.” (to watch, click on http://www.aptn.ca/streaming/index.php?wmv=friday/six)
Supporters rushed to the quarry after watching or hearing of Shawn’s arrest. An altercation with the OPP is alleged to have ensued. Four Mohawks were then arrested and jailed. The OPP were reported to have drawn their guns on the Mohawk community members remaining the quarry.
According to Mohawk spokesperson Jay Maracle, “The OPP led us into this incident by jumping five of our men, arresting them and taking them to jail and then sticking guns in our faces, in women and children’s faces,” he said.
There has been open communication between the Mohawks and the OPP but Maracle said things will not improve unless OPP retracts a statement indicating there are armed Mohawks at the quarry. He said there are no guns at the site.
Matt Kunkel, Clint Brant, Dan Doreen, and Steve Chartrand remain in custody and will appear in bail court in Napanee today. The group includes Dan Dorene, spokesperson for the Mohawk blockade on Highway 2 one week ago, erected to prevent development on the Culberston Tract, land which rightfully belongs to the Mohawks.
A couple from the community who were also arrested by the OPP on Friday were later were released unconditionally.
Shawn Brant will also likely appear in court today.
This brings the total number of First Nations people in Ontario jails for defending their land to 12.
EMERGENCY RALLY: TORONTO
TOMORROW: Tuesday, April 29th
Ministry of the Attorney General
720 Bay Street
(Bay, just north of Gerrard, eastside)
OPP back off! Free all First Nations Political Prisoners Now!
Hands off Stolen Land: Return the Culbertson Tract to the Mohawks of Tyendinaga!
Please continue to call the premier’s office and urge the Provincial Government to:
Honour Mohawk land, call off the OPP: Do not risk people’s lives for a gravel pit the government has already acknowledged is on Mohawk land!
Release all First Nations political prisoners!
Premier Dalton McGuinty: 416-325-1941 (phone)
Submitted on April 28, 2008