by Gary McHale - The Regional
May 20, 2009
For three years the OPP has shown nothing but complete contempt towards law abiding residents of Caledonia while doing everything they could to appease Native Protesters. No matter what crime was being committed directly in front of OPP officers, no officer had the courage or commitment to the community to do anything to stop Native Protesters from victimizing people.
The OPP's solution was therefore to smear anyone who told the public the truth or was willing to stand up to this injustice. The Commissioner himself testified that he never uses negative terms when referring to Native protesters but we have all heard the Commissioner endlessly smear non-Native People. The Commissioner also testified he has never met with non-Native protesters while admitting that he has had several meetings with Clyde Powless and other Native Protesters - they even have his cell phone number.
The OPP has lost their propaganda war against non-Native people and, with testimony from OPP officers, their endless denial that Race Based Policing isn't happening in Caledonia no longer holds water. The Flag Raising Events have been the single greatest tool to expose just how the OPP acts solely based on the race of the person involved. People in Ontario and Canada cannot understand how anyone can be arrested for raising a Canadian Flag and the OPP know full well that they can never explain to the public why people cannot put up a flag.
The OPP has suddenly decided on a new approach to non-Natives who protest. Instead of the usual OPP smear campaign complete with the end-of-the-world rhetoric, the OPP is trying a new spin. The new approach is for the OPP to talk about how they 'recognize' and 'respect' the rights of citizens. OPP Supt. Gentle sent me a letter stating:
'The OPP recognizes the rights of citizens to engage in lawful protest and demonstration. Of paramount importance to the OPP is that demonstrators participate in orderly freedom of assembly and speech in safe and secure environments, and that overall public safety is ensured.'
Of course the above sounds great until you get to the point that it will be the OPP who decides what is a safe and secure environment.
Whenever Native Protesters want to march down Argyle St. they get a police escort and to date not one Native has been arrested for trying to put up a flag. The OPP will now admit non-Natives also have rights in Ontario, but unfortunately anytime any non-Native person wants to protest the OPP will simply declare that it is unsafe to do so - not unsafe because of the non-Native Protesters but unsafe directly due to the violent threats the OPP claim they receive from the 'extreme elements' on Six Nations.
In effect this means non-Natives will continue to be arrested for violating no laws in order to appease Native protesters. The OPP hope their new propaganda message that they support the rights of all citizens will not be drowned out by their resounding commitment to arrest non-Natives for breaking no law.
Not only does the OPP provide escort for Native protesters but to date no Native has even been stopped for putting up their flags on private property. Remember that is was Sam Gaultieri who had to climb onto his roof to remove a native flag while OPP watched Native protesters climb up and place it there. What exactly did the OPP do when Native protesters placed native flags on Dan Valentini's development property in Hagersville. The OPP told us we would be arrested if we attempted to put up a Canadian Flag on Mr. Valentini's property but could not explain why there was a native flag already flying there.
Just how many native flags were placed at different development properties in Haldimand without a single OPP officer doing anything? How many native flags were raised along Argyle St. without a single response from the OPP?
But whenever anyone wants to raise a Canadian Flag the OPP brings in hundreds of officers, the London Riot Squad, a helicopter and buses to keep their officers warm because somehow a Canadian Flag is a breach of the peace. According to the OPP it wasn't a breach of the peace while Native Protesters swarmed the Stirling development and placed flags on private property.
This Sunday at 1:30 pm outside of the Lion's Hall we will rally with a few speeches to march down Argyle St. to place a Canadian Flag on a Hydro pole. We do this for two main reasons. First, it gives the OPP the opportunity to put into action what they say in words which is that all citizens have rights. Second, it demonstrates to the OPP and the McGuinty Government that the people will not quietly allow them to turn Haldimand into a police state where it is the OPP who determines whether you have rights or not.
The Charter of Rights must be more than a piece of paper with mere words on it. The Rights and Freedoms of every citizen are not subject to the whims of the Commissioner nor 'extreme elements' on Six Nations. Violent groups cannot be allowed to control the police to the point where people's rights are denied in the name of appeasement.
When and where does it stop if the OPP are allowed to strip you of your Rights out of fear of the criminals who choose to use violence to force their political will upon others?
Queen's Park has hundreds of protests every year done by various opposing groups. The police at Queen's Park make it clear that their job is to ensure the rights of peaceful protesters. Queen's Park police met with us last year when we planned a protest there. They made it clear that if any other group appeared on the same day to oppose us then it was their job to remove them. Their job wasn't to remove peaceful protesters but to remove anybody that may show up to confront protesters.
In Haldimand, the OPP spend far too much of their time working to ensure Native protesters are appeased. I do not see residents gathering to stop Native protesters from having a picnic on DCE or to stop Natives from raising a flag so why does the OPP allow Native protesters, whom the OPP now claim are 'extreme elements', from rallying to stop non-Natives.
This Sunday the OPP has an option. They can live up to their new words that state all citizens have rights or by their actions they can once again prove that the OPP look at the Race of the person involved before deciding whether an action is legal or not.
Individual officers have an equally difficult decision to make. They can uphold their Oath of Office which demands they uphold the Charter or they can turn their backs on Equality and Justice because of a pay cheque.
The public has a choice as well - is Justice more important than watching TV or the kids' hockey game? If you value the Freedoms enshrined in the Charter then join us at the Lion's Hall to help bring an end to Race Based Policing.
The OPP have warned Merlyn Kinrade that he will be arrested this Sunday. If so, he is guilty of protesting while being non-Native.
This past week Mayor Trainer stated that she 'wasn’t bothered by the flag raising and said it was not illegal'. She claims she has spoken to police and believes it will 'not get out of hand'.