Caledonia protester to sue OPP

Gary McHale of Richmond Hill says police failed to enforce the law when he was injured.

Dec 3, 2007

A man hurt during a weekend confrontation in Caledonia says he will take legal action against the OPP for not stepping in when things got ugly.

Gary McHale of Richmond Hill said he was feeling better yesterday after his release from hospital for treatment of bruised ribs, face and foot injuries, but is disappointed in the OPP whom, he said, "didn't enforce the law."

"We will be pressing charges. We will not hand them any videos or any photos" of the attack, he said.

OPP have asked anyone with photos or video of the incident to contact them.

McHale was among a group of 40 non-natives protesting about a "smoke shack," where they say cigarettes are sold illegally by natives.

The protesters encountered a group of 100 natives. About 16 uniformed OPP officers were present, McHale said.

McHale and another protester were hurt.

The OPP was not available for comment yesterday, but in a news release police had said the protesters were "taunting and provoking" the natives.

OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino said in the release people who put their personal agendas ahead of those seeking a permanent resolution "will not be tolerated."

Londoner Mark Vandermaas, who joined McHale, said their group didn't incite violence.

"At all protests, we always stress non-violence," said Vandermaas, who's taken part in other protests against a native occupation of a Caledonia housing development.

"They were all swearing in my face and at one point I got pushed to the ground," Vandermaas said.

Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer said the municipality needs the help of the province and federal governments to resolve the issues at Caledonia.

Three smoke shacks are illegally set up on land bought by the local band council, the third along a provincial highway, she said.

"We're trying to have them removed. We're giving them time and we're being patient," said Trainer.