Arrest a black eye on democracy

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

June 3, 2009

A man who was arrested by the OPP and charged with obstructing police, claims that he didn't do anything wrong and was just walking along the side of the road with a Canadian flag.

"Everyone thought I was going to DCE (Douglas Creek Estates) to put up a flag and that is absolutely not true," said Randy Fleming.

Fleming, a 46-year-old resident of Townsend, had been at a garage sale on Argyle Street South and claims that he was on his way to meet his brother and several others who were participating in a Canadian flag raising event that had marched from the Lions Hall on the afternoon of Sunday, May 24.

Fleming was walking north on the west side shoulder of Argyle Street South and he claims that an unmarked van carrying OPP officers came rumbling towards him.

'I had no idea who was in the van," he said.

'It was going at such a speed that I thought I was going to get hit."

Fleming turned to avoid the vehicle and walked onto the road allowance next to the native occupation where he was apprehended by police officers.

An OPP press release that followed said that Fleming had been warned that his actions could jeopardize public peace and safety and that he disregarded police instruction.

However, according to Fleming, there was no such warning.

"At no time did police tell me to stay off the road with a Canadian flag."

A video posted by a local resident at www.numberswatchdog.com shows Fleming walking along the road allowance before being approached by an officer who leads him away from onrushing native occupiers. Fleming was then taken down to the ground by several other officers before being handcuffed and taken away.

Fleming said he sustained a black eye and that his left arm swelled to twice its size. He believes that police used excessive force.

The property known as Douglas Creek Estates is owned by the province. While it is regarded as a no go zone for the OPP it hasn't been declared off limits to residents of Ontario.

Fleming noted that the OPP did not charge him with trespassing on the road allowance.

"I didn't break the law," he said.

"I am looking forward to my day in court."