Charges expected after protest rally

Dec 3, 2007
By Canadian Press – Posted Edmonton Sun

CALEDONIA, Ont. -- Provincial police say charges are pending after a protest rally over an aboriginal smoke shop in Caledonia erupted into violence.

Two people were injured during the melee on Saturday morning.

Gary McHale of Richmond Hill, who has led a number of protests in the area, suffered a bruised rib, black eye and head and foot injuries.

The protest was over a smoke shack that some contend is on land not owned by Six Nations. Six Nations officials say the land is theirs, as it falls into a claim for the roadbed of Plank Road.

The claim is one of several being discussed at ongoing negotiations between the provincial and federal governments and Six Nations.

"We went out with every intention of having a peaceful protest," said organizer Doug Fleming.

Fleming has also sold cigarettes out of the back of his pickup truck to protest other smoke shops that are on band council-owned land.

The land is not now part of the reserve, and as such, is currently under the jurisdiction of Haldimand County and the provincial police.

The smoke shop which was contested on Saturday is about a kilometre away from the former Douglas Creek Estates, which Six Nations protesters have occupied since February 2006.

At one point during the more than hour-long incident, police formed a line to separate about 100 protesters from the natives that had gathered.

In a strongly worded press release, provincial police said the protesters were "taunting and provoking those present."

Sgt. Dave Rektor said charges are pending, but did not indicate whether it was for protesters or Six Nations.