OPP consent to Flag March past DCE

by Gary McHale - The Regional News this Week

June 17, 2009

When you are dealing with an institution the size of the Ontario Provincial Police which is part of an even larger institution, the Ontario Government, bringing about real change to institutionalized racist policies is like a long journey requiring thousands of steps.

In a society with fast food and instant solutions to problems it is hard for many people to understand that any battle worth fighting is won only by endearing the long journey. No one makes it to the Olympics without the years of hard work. People expected that writing a letter to their elected officials or joining a single rally that somehow everything would suddenly improve and Law and Order would be restored.

Few people take the time to remember the historical examples which demonstrate that every battle to end institutionalized racism is a long battle that takes years. Those who asked what have we done that benefit Caledonia are the same people who cannot understand that it took years to women to gain the right to vote, to end Black Slavery throughout the British Empire and years for Martin Luther King Jr. to bring about change in the USA - Dr. King died before seeing his work finished.

For those of us who understand that the OPP and Ontario Government will only change when it become too difficult for them not to change understand that only through the repeated effects on the part of so many that changes happens.

The OPP in 2007 and 2008 worked very hard to defame me, personally, as well as any member of public who spoke out. Their repeated public rants against non-Natives is well documented and now that officers have had to testify under oath these negative statements have been proven to be unfounded.

Although we cannot declare that Race Based Policing has been ended, we are pleased to announce that the OPP has made several important steps towards the day when that can be declared. We wish to acknowledge a few of these steps that have occurred in the past two months.

1. Following 30 months of attempts by Gary McHale to have direct communication with senior OPP officers, all of which failed, approximately two months ago Supt. Gentle wrote a letter to Mr. McHale stating that "the OPP recognizes the rights of citizens to engage in lawful protest and demonstration". This was an important first step - willingness to communicate and acknowledge that all citizens had rights. This change in tone was in sharp contrast to the refusal to communicate and the attempts to slander us in the media.

2. A few weeks later the OPP arranged to have a meeting with Mr. McHale and other members of CANACE regarding the May 24/09 flag raising protest. Prior to this the OPP had refused such communications due to what we believe was a fear that such meetings would send the message that the OPP recognized CANACE as a legitimate group. Although this meeting did not live up to the full potential of Supt. Gentle's words it still represented an important step on the part of the OPP – the willingness to hold face to face communications.

3. With the illegal arrest of Randy Fleming and the direct interference with our 'right' to 'engage in lawful protest and demonstration' on May 24th. my editorial in this newspaper was entitled 'OPP: Your Actions Speak Louder than Words'. The OPP were then informed that a special rally would be held in Caledonia in support of Randy Fleming, and also that the Flag Raising Events would be held the second Sunday of each month until the OPP respected the rights of non-natives.

On Friday June 12/09, in a meeting called by the OPP CANACE founders Merlyn Kinrade and Gary McHale were informed by Sgt. Phil Carter that the OPP would permit the planned rally in support of Randy Fleming to march down Argyle St. past the Douglas Creek Estates occupation site. Residents will be carrying the Canadian Flag as they march. This historic march will take place on Saturday, June 20 at 1:30. People are asked to gather at the Lion's Hall at 1:30 pm. After the march past DCE we will rally at the Cayuga Police Station for a few speeches and to raise posters which show excessive force used against Randy Fleming during his illegal arrest.

The OPP have now not merely acknowledged that all citizens have rights but have made a conscious decision that those rights must be respected and protected in a free democratic society.  In so doing they have acknowledged that no one race can be permitted to limit or control the rights of another – even during a land claim dispute. This represents a radical breakthrough in OPP policy.

In two short months the OPP has opened up communications, had face to face talks and consented to a planned non-Native rally which will occur directly in front of DCE. While these are certainly not the last big steps the OPP will need to make over the coming year to eliminate racial policing they are important milestones on the road to equality and justice for all citizens of Ontario – native and non-native.

Merlyn Kinrade is publicly inviting councillor Grice, Mayor Trainer, MPP Toby Barrett and MP Diane Finley to join with residents to demonstrate that they stand against the racist policies of the OPP. Whether these people join is up to them but the public must start asked these elected officials what are they doing to bring about real change in Haldimand. Will these officials get their hands dirty and join the average person on the street to show an united front against the illegal actions of the OPP?

Dr. King believed that direct action through peaceful protest would bring about real change which was to give Black people true equality in society. Dr. King denounced negotiations as if any group should sit back and wait for their rights to be negotiated.

I believe the OPP has finial heard our message when I wrote to them two weeks ago and stated, " We will NEVER submit to the racist policies of the OPP and we will never negotiate our rights."

On June 6, 2009 Prime Minister Harper stated, "freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are the principles our veterans fought and died for on the beaches of Normandy... Young Canadians should be prepared to follow in the footsteps of their forebears and fight for freedom and democratic values...  and be prepared ourselves to defend those things and those values in the future... It is only when these values are in peril, when we have to defend them, that we can truly understand their worth as our soldiers did."

In the spirit of the Prime Minister’s call to action we invite Canadians to join us on July 12th - and the 2nd Sunday of each month thereafter - at 1:30 p.m. at the Caledonia Lion's Hall for a march down Argyle Street to raise a Canadian Flag.  Raising a flag is the most peaceful means to expose OPP racial policing policies and serve notice that the Charter of Rights cannot be revoked at the whim of police.

So please join us this Sat. June 20 for 'Support Randy Fleming' Rally and then set aside the second Sunday of each month to join us to raise the Canadian Flag.

Freedoms are not free - someone has to pay the price.