Native protesters repel police raid in Caledonia, Ontario

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Just before 5 a.m. EDT (0900 UTC) on Thursday, Ontario Provincial Police officers armed with guns, tasers, tear gas, and pepper spray stormed the area that dozens of Six Nations protesters have occupied for the past 52 days.

"People were pepper sprayed...another man was shot in the back with a Taser and we were told more police officers would be coming back," said protester Hazel Hill.

"The police just completely swarmed the territory," said protester Mike Desroches, adding that the officers entered with guns drawn. No shots were fired.

"They swarmed every which way, I couldn't even hazard a guess how many cops," said another man, Clyde Powless. The protesters have been unarmed since the beginning of the occupation, although a police statement said some officers needed medical attention for injuries sustained "while confronted by the protesters with […] axes, crowbars, rocks and a various assortment of make-shift batons".

OPP Deputy Commissioner Maurice Pilon confirmed that 16 people were arrested before protesters called in reinforcements that caused police to retreat. A spokeswoman for the protesters, Janie Jamieson, made it clear that the confrontation was not over. "We're prepared ... for however long it takes," she said.

Protesters started a huge tire fire to block the road in an attempt to prevent a further incursion by the police. A dump truck was also stopped astride the road and roadblocks set up to prevent the passage of traffic.

Protesters expect more natives to support them in the near future.