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Old 04-20-2006, 01:39 PM   #1
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Tensions grow as native protesters return to Ontario site

With police helicopters hovering overhead, aboriginal protesters continued to block the road to a construction site in southwestern Ontario Thursday, hours after police staged a pre-dawn raid to break up a seven-week-old occupation.

Plumes of black smoke billowed in the air as protesters burned a pile of tires on the two-lane highway leading to the site in Caledonia, about 90 kilometres southwest of Toronto.

The blockade was set up after an early morning raid to remove protesters, who believe the land is rightfully theirs. Police in cruisers and vans swooped into the site around 4: 30 a.m. EDT with tear gas cannons and Tasers, arresting several people.

Protester Mike Desrouches, who witnessed the early morning raid, told CBC Newsworld a number of people were Tasered as police "covered the entire area within seconds."

Janie Jamieson, who speaks for the protesters, said one female protester was "beaten by five OPP officers" and that others were pepper-sprayed. She said nine people were arrested and that eight have since been released.

Police did not immediately comment on the raid, but were expected to do so later Thursday.

By 9 a.m., more than 100 protesters had gathered at the site, set tires on fire, climbed atop vehicles and waved Mohawk flags. Jamieson, who vowed to stay "as long as it takes," said they've put out a call to other reserves for more demonstrators. Protesters have a one-month supply of provisions, said CBC reporter Nil Koksal.

Aboriginal leaders at the scene said they were under the impression talks with the government were ongoing when police raided the site, although a number of media reports quoted Jamieson on Tuesday as saying that "communication has not completely broken down, but the talks have."

Hamilton's CH News has reported that the OPP is regrouping in another part of Caledonia, and that roughly 1,000 police officers, including riot police, have been placed on standby.

The situation led local officials to close an elementary school in the town.

- Protest stretched over seven weeks -

The protesters have been camped out since Feb. 28, setting up tents, a teepee and a wooden building on the site. They say the land was granted to the Six Nations more than 200 years ago and was never transferred to non-natives.

A sign on the land reads: "Oh Canada - your home on native land."

The province says aboriginals gave up the land in 1841 to make way for a new highway.

In late March, the protesters ignored an order from an Ontario Superior Court judge to end the occupation.

Six Nations filed a land claims suit over the area in 1999.

Henco Industries, the property developer of Douglas Creek Estates, hasn't commented on the day's events.

In 1995, another OPP raid on a native occupation made national headlines when an unarmed protester was killed by a police sniper.

Dudley George's death at Ipperwash Provincial Park became the subject of an ongoing inquiry, which has heard testimony from former Ontario premier Mike Harris.

What a shining example of human rights we're providing for the rest of the world! Our treatment of native Canadians continues to be shameful. All of this is happening just minutes from where I live. I hope that despite police actions, this does not escalate to the point that Ipperwash did.

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Old 04-20-2006, 01:50 PM   #2
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It's a shame they are treated this way. The US has that shame also.
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