Video: Staff Sgt. Scott Semple of the Ontario Provincial Police warns Tyendinaga Mohawks Saturday they were under investigation for mischief after blocking the Via Rail main line between Toronto and Montreal.
By Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
If police had served an emergency court order against the Mohawks of Tyendinaga Saturday, when they blocked the Via Rail main line for seven hours, the protestors would have made a point of staying longer.
And if police tried to make arrests there would have been a fight.
The blockade began at about 4 p.m. at the Wymans road crossing on the reserve and ended just after 11 p.m. but during that time CN Rail had obtained an emergency court injunction from a Toronto judge to have them removed.
This new information comes after Justice David Brown blasted the Ontario Provincial Police Monday for not serving a court order saying “no person in Canada stands above or outside the law,” according to a court document released to the media.
The order allowed for police to make arrests.
Brown is the same judge who issued two court injunctions against a nearly two-week blockade of a CN spur line in Sarnia that ended Jan. 2. Those orders were ignored by Sarnia police. He was also presided over hearings involving the Occupy protests in Toronto in 2011.
Police didn’t comply with the order in Tyendinaga, instead OPP Staff Sgt. Scott Semple issued a warning to protestors at about 9 p.m. that they would be investigated for criminal mischief and possibly charged if they didn’t put an end it. (See video)
Semple then asked if they were going to leave and was told no but maybe later.
CN asked the local sheriff to serve the court order Saturday evening but Semple said it was “too dangerous” to do so. Semple said he would serve it in the morning if the blockade hadn’t ended.
APTN National News was allowed into the blockade where about two dozen people stood around fires burning on both sides of the tracks. Nothing was impeding the tracks.
“We would have stayed longer. We are not going to have a judge tell us where we can stand on our own land,” said Dan Doreen, one of the protestors, Monday afternoon.
The plan was always to leave around 11:30 p.m. and Dan Doreen said they would have stayed for at least another 12 hours if police served the injunction.
Doreen said the blockade was to show the federal government they had the power to shut it down. They also did it to support chiefs who are going to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper Friday as requested by Chief Theresa Spence who has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11.
“Now they can go into that meeting with a sense of pride instead of pity,” Doreen said Saturday.
Brown said police made the wrong choice.
“Such an approach by the OPP was most disappointing,” said Brown who learned his court order wasn’t served by reading media reports. Brown asked for CN to report to him Monday as to why it wasn’t then released his comments. “I do not get it.”
The blockade disrupted multiple trains forcing Via Rail to transport passengers on buses around the blockade. Chief R. David Maracle told authorities the band council didn’t support the protest.
It’s not the first time the Mohawks have blocked the Wymans crossing. They first did it in 2006 in support of Caledonia and the conflict there. They did it again in 2007 during the so-called national day of action when they also shut down highway 401 and highway 2 for 24 hours.
Then they blocked the tracks again Dec. 30 for several hours during the busy Sunday even travel time.
APTN was told they pick that location because about 170 years ago a small group of their people were threatened to be shot by the government.
The injunction remains in place until Jan. 15.