by Gary McHale - The Regional
Nov. 18, 2009
Last week at the trial involving Dave Brown and Dana Chatwell, who have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the provincial police and government, former Haldimand OPP Insp. Brian Haggith testified that in mid-March 2006 the "Mohawk Warrior group" arrived on DCE and raised their flag.
Insp. Haggith stated that in mid-March 2006 the 'Mohawk Warrior Group' arrived on DCE and raised their flag. He stated, 'this was a call for all warriors to come and fight and defend.' He stated individual warriors were 'known to police' and had 'criminal records'.
This group would not take 'any directions from Chiefs'. He stated, 'they flew their flag higher than Six Nations' flag to show they had control'.
He stated this 'militant group' started to live on the site and concern by residents and for residents greatly increased. He stated, that by March 28, 2006 there were several groups occupying DCE and that the Chiefs and OPP had 'no control over these Groups'.
Haggith agreed the warriors were lawless and were 'akin to Hell's Angles' who had a history of willingness to use violence against police. He stated he expressed his concern to his superiors.
This group did not come from Six Nations reserve but were from Cornwall and were involved in Oka. They were known for their confrontation with police and their willingness to use arms.
The OPP knew they had access to assault weapons, Haggith acknowledge.
Insp. Ron George, relative of Dudley George, was the senior First Nations advisor and he had reported extreme activities on the site.
On June 9, 2006 Insp. Haggith arrived at the Canadian Tire parking lot to hear witnesses provide OPP with information regarding the swarming of the elderly couple and the attack on the CH camera crew.
Insp. Haggith admitted it was unlawful for the natives to follow the elderly couple and that this couple was entitled to be protected by the OPP. He stated he immediately went to the Union Road Command Center and expressed his concerns to Supt. Ron Gentle.
"It has gone too far" he told Gentle and asked whether the OPP were going to start making arrests. The public no longer believed the OPP would protect them, he said, and "I told him [Gentle] it is time to start making arrests and that one lady would not give her name because she believed the police would not protect her".
Insp. Haggith admits there were "acts of aggression and lawlessness" and that there "should have been arrests."
Protesters who attacked the CH camera crew "should have been arrested for robbery" and that it was Haggith's understanding that "15 OPP officers witnessed it but took no steps to stop it."
Haggith admits that normally anyone who injured a police officer would be arrested immediately and that "within five minutes they would be in a cell'. There would be a "full court press" by police to make arrests.
However, Insp. Haggith is ordered not to. Supt. Gentle orders that a strategy be put into place including the need to "go to residents and get them to calm down".
Haggith was led to believe arrests would be made within 24 hours and he was "disappointed" because OPP will not protect people. The protesters should 'not have been allowed to leave the area without being arrested, he concluded.
The OPP called in the Toronto Police in full riot gear to line up against the residents, Instead of following Insp. Haggith's discretionary authority and start arresting native protesters. The Toronto Police became so angry at their orders their commander ordered his officers back on the buses and they left Caledonia.
In another incident on May 8, 2006 at about 1 a.m., Dave Brown was returning home from a Blue Jay's game in Toronto. Brown was allowed past the OPP barricade on Argyle Street but was stopped at the native barricade and told he wasn't allowed to go home due to a curfew. Brown drove past the natives and proceeded to go home anyway.
He was immediately swarmed by 15-20 native protesters and forced into Brian Skye's vehicle. He was taken back to the OPP who placed Mr. Brown in jail overnight without being charged.
Insp. Haggith states these actions amounted to intimidation, assault, unlawful confinement and maybe kidnapping. He admitted no natives were arrested or investigated for these crimes.
Insp. Haggith stated the protesters "had setup a checkpoint... almost like entering another country".
Regarding the OPP's Aboriginal Framework Policy, Haggith stated, "I understood it at first... but what happened as time progressed, as I could see it as a police officer, was that the natives on the site were becoming more bold and the laws were being broken... as it progressed [they] became bolder and bolder and more things were occurring. So at one point, I started to suggest that maybe we should start arresting some people while the offence is being committed."
Insp. Haggith stated, 'we were not permitted to cross the barricades.' When asked who gave this order he stated, 'Supt. Cain and Commissioner Boniface'.
The Ontario Government purchased DCE on July 4, 2006 and entered into an agreement to allow the occupiers to stay. On numerous occasions, on a 'continuing basis during the day and night', the occupiers created loud noises in close proximity to the Plaintiff's property including gunfire, shouting, yelling, cursing, chanting, heavy machinery, explosions, unmuffled ATVs, firecrackers, racing of vehicles, music and drum beating. Numerous fires occurred on DCE where smoke, ashes and sparks blew onto the Plaintiff's property.
The fire department was not permitted to respond to fires.
Former Haldimand County Fire Chief, Dan Robinson told Haggith he cannot rely on the OPP and would not respond to calls after protesters threatened the lives of local fire-fighters.
The protesters brought in heavy equipment and constructed a road and a bunker behind the Plaintiff's property. When the Plaintiffs were outside they were beset by protesters who harass, threaten, intimidate and abuse the Plaintiffs.
The occupiers would gather in large numbers and line up along the property to verbally assault the Plaintiffs by making derogatory and racial comments. They throw rocks and other objects and would hide in bushes and chant, yell, shout, curse and threaten the Plaintiffs.
The protesters regularly appeared in camouflage attire, with balaclavas and bandanas covering their faces as they carried bats and other large objects and threatened the Plaintiffs with bodily harm as well as threatening to burn down their home.
Insp. Haggith admitted all these acts were illegal and not part of the peaceful or lawful protest. He listed out several criminal offenses that were committed - mischief, intimidation, threatening, and trespassing.
Insp. Haggith admitted that at times the OPP had police officers stationed in a car in the Plaintiff's driveway while these illegal acts took place. At no time did the OPP attempt to stop the protesters, and Insp. Haggith admitted that many times the OPP did not investigate the crimes. The OPP would "kindly ask occupiers to stop which in most cases they refused."
The court heard about two OPP officers being taken by the protesters and held for at least two hours. Commissioner Boniface admitted this was unlawful confinement and maybe kidnapping. No charges were laid nor any investigation done.
Insp. Haggith stated that during the OPP raid on April 20, 2006 on DCE the protesters responded with "every weapon possible" - chain saws, bats, axes and homemade weapons. He stated the OPP repealed them several times but they kept coming and "Supt. Cain ordered us out."
"What happened to this couple over the course of almost the next four years is unprecedented in Canada, is a circumstance for which we have virtually no paradigm, no experience in Canada," said the Plaintiff's lawyer, Michael Bordin. "Canadians live with expectations that the police will protect them from threats, from intimidation, from vandalism and from violence. The Canadian citizen is entitled to have expectations of fundamental certainties."
'I believe they [Dave & Dava] lived in fear of personal harm," Haggith said.