CALEDONIA (Jun 13, 2006)
Ontario Provincial Police are trying to recover classified documents containing the identities of undercover officers and operational details concerning the native occupation.
The documents were stolen last Friday during an altercation between natives and police in which an OPP officer was seriously injured.
Natives occupying the Douglas Creek Estates got the documents when they stole an unmarked U.S. Border Patrol SUV in which two U.S. border agents and an OPP officer had been riding.
The OPP have issued an arrest warrant for a 30-year-old Six Nations man who is wanted for attempted murder. He is accused of trying to run over the downed OPP officer with the stolen SUV.
The documents contain the names of OPP officers and U.S. agents involved in the standoff, home phone numbers, details of surveillance operations and information from confidential informants dating back to the beginning of the standoff.
They also include notes of investigations into human smuggling across the Canada-U.S. border along the Niagara frontier.
The Spectator obtained a copy of the documents on the weekend from former Spectator reporter Lynda Powless, publisher of Turtle Island News, a national native weekly newspaper based on the Six Nations Reserve.
Late yesterday, the OPP appealed to The Spectator to immediately return the copied documents.
"That information is very important and we need to get it back. I can't stress that enough," said OPP Acting Detective Staff Sergeant Anthony Renton.
The OPP officer said the information in the documents "is very sensitive law enforcement information that places people at risk as police officers."
Renton would not discuss the documents' impact on officer safety, operations or negotiations to end the standoff.
Among the documents is a two-page contact list of many key players in the standoff, including natives and OPP staff. In some instances, the list provides cellphone and home phone numbers.
News that the confidential information had fallen into native hands sent shock waves through the OPP union yesterday, which recently criticized OPP leaders for compromising the safety of their frontline officers.
"I'm speechless," said Karl Walsh, president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association.
"I will immediately call command staff and ask them what they are doing to ensure the safety of the officers whose safety has been compromised as a result of the information that's now in the hands of the antagonists within the Six Nations Reserve."
Powless said natives found the documents in a blue SUV registered to the U.S. Border Patrol. OPP officials say the border agents were observing how provincial police are handling the standoff.
The documents "came into my possession, and I will not tell you how, and I photocopied it, and I returned it," Powless said.
The SUV was first spotted on Argyle Street in Caledonia with someone leaning out of the vehicle taking photographs of the natives' barricades, she said, then sped off when protesters approached them.
Natives followed the vehicle, she said, and that an altercation occurred when it slowed down and one of its occupants jumped out.
"One of our men, I understand, then jumped into the vehicle and drove it back onto the site. They looked into the vehicle to see what was in it and it was full of sophisticated radio and high tech equipment and a bunch of documents," Powless said.
The natives returned the documents and the SUV to police after several hours of negotiations with native liaison officers, but not before the documents were photocopied.
The intelligence officer's log includes details of an OPP operations post being set up in the Hamilton area, checks into the background of natives and Caledonia residents, and information from the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) that "white supremacist skinheads" were heading to Caledonia that "did not materialize."
One note describes an interview with a Caledonia resident who complained the standoff frightened her children.
The officer's log reads: "Her kids are on the school bus and they were told to do up the windows on the bus."