by Gary McHale
March 17, 2010 - Regional News
Insp. Periversoff inherited all the baggage of the past four years when he, in effect, became the Chief of Police for Haldimand County. He appears to be very sincere in his desire to bring about equality and to start the healing within Haldimand. However, the OPP is still subject to the policies which demand that officers overlook the criminal activities of Native Protesters.
On Feb. 28th, the four year anniversary, Native Protesters held a pot luck on DCE. While there is no problem with having such a pot luck the problem occurred when they decided the only way to get to DCE was to walk down the middle of 6th Line and Argyle St. carrying numerous flags.
This action sent a message to the OPP and to the people of Caledonia as reported in both the Tekawennake and Turtle Island News newspapers. That message was that Native Protesters will never submit to the criminal code of Canada and the OPP will NOT enforce the law upon Native protesters.
According to both newspapers the OPP informed these Native protesters that they would be arrested for mischief for walking down the center of the road. The OPP requested that they walk down the side of the road.
The response from these Native protesters was that if the OPP attempted to arrest any of them then they would pull the hydro tower across the road. Of course the actions of the OPP were very predictable. The OPP blocked off Argyle St. and allowed the criminal act of mischief to take place in full view of their officers.
Just for the record, I have refused to allow any of our people to walk down the road during a protest even when the OPP offered to close the roads for us. There was no way I was going to give the OPP a way of claiming that both sides shut down the roads during protests.
How can anyone in Haldimand County believe the OPP will enforce the law when they fail to do so every time there is an opportunity to prove to the public that they do not have a Two Tier System of Justice?
The public should be reminded that Randy Fleming is still being prosecuted for walking down Argyle St. carrying a Canadian Flag - he goes to trial in August. Mr. Fleming was the fourth non-Native to be arrested for walking down the side of the road carrying a Canadian Flag.
The OPP claim that Mr. Fleming obstructed a police officer by refusing to obey his orders to stop. The OPP have for four years refused to answer what law is being broken when a non-Native walks down the side of a road with a Canadian Flag - why are Canadian Flags illegal while Native Flags are legal?
Will the public ever see any charges against the Native protesters for blocking traffic on Feb. 28th.? I think the answer is a resounding NO - no charges have ever been laid for the four day blockade in April 2008 or for the 5 week blockade in 2006.
Will the OPP charge any Native protesters for obstructing a police officer because they refused to follow the instructions of an officer? Will Native protesters be charged for threatening to pull the hydro tower across the road and shutting down Caledonia? Will the OPP file any criminal charges for wearing a disguise (covering their faces) while they walked down the center of the road?
There is little doubt there were numerous criminal acts committed on Feb. 28, 2010 and little doubt the OPP will NEVER lay a single charge.
So what is the public to do when Insp. Periversoff repeatedly states that there is no such thing as Two Tier Justice and that the community needs to find ways to bring about healing?
I believe the first step is that the public must demand the OPP admit the truth, apologize for their actions and then change their policies to reflect what section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees which is that all people have equal benefit and equal protection of the law.
In December 2009 Insp. Periversoff met with CANACE and we asked him to seek approval for the OPP to issue a public apology to the people of Haldimand County. On Feb. 22, 2010 Merlyn Kinrade wrote Insp. Periversoff and invited him to the March 21 Anti-Racism Rally as a guest speaker to give the OPP the opportunity to apologize.
When Mr. Kinrade wrote Insp. Periversoff he stated, "when the OPP publicly state that there is no such thing as Two Tier Justice then the OPP are just victimizing the residents of Caledonia all over again. Such statements are telling them that they are liars when they say the OPP stood by and just watched crimes being committed against them."
In fact, such statements by the OPP belittle the pain and suffering of people like Dana Chatwell and Dave Brown, Sam Gualtieri and hundreds of other residents.
In the process of healing and reconciliation the first step is for the OPP and the McGuinty Government to acknowledge Two Tier Justice, apologize to the people of Haldimand County and to pledge that it will never be allowed to happen again.
Insp. Periversoff, as the OPP representative, has an opportunity on March 21 at the Anti-Racism Rally to help start the healing by taking that first step.One can only hope his bosses are willing to bring an end to Race Based Policing in Haldimand County.