Activist badly beaten in Caledonia attack

Dec 2, 2007

The Canadian Press - post Hamilton Spectotor

  CALEDONIA — Ontario Provincial Police had to summon reinforcements Saturday to quell a disturbance at a long-running native standoff.
A protest over a disputed “smoke shack” at the end of Caledonia’s main street turned violent, leaving two men injured.

The clash centred on the shack, where protesters allege natives are selling cigarettes illegally.

Six Nations protesters have been occupying land they say is theirs since February 2006.

A lawyer for one of the injured men, Gary McHale of Richmond Hill, who has organized past protests against the native occupation of a housing development, said his client was badly beaten in a “completely unprovoked attack by a group of natives.”

But the OPP said in a release that protesters approached the Argyle Street shack “taunting and provoking” people there.

Lawyer John Findlay said McHale was treated in hospital for bruised ribs, face and foot injuries and released after being “swarmed by about five or six people.”  

He said the incident was captured on videotape and McHale is considering legal action.

Findlay said another man was injured when he was thrown to the ground and hit his head.

The protest against the smoke shack was not organized by his client and began peacefully, Findlay said.
OPP commissioner Julian Fantino said in a release that the force, “will seek every legal remedy possible to end this madness and to bring them (protesters) to justice.”

“These incidents, where interlopers put their personal agendas over those who are striving for a permanent and lasting resolution will not be tolerated,” said Fantino.

Findlay called the smoke shack a “bone of contention” in the town.

“People have been complaining to the municipality about it. There are many residents losing patience with what’s going on here.”