For those of you who don’t know, things have flared up at Caledonia (again). I'm also passing on the following reaction i received on an email list to the Hamilton Spectator reporting on last night's settler violence, from someone who was there:
Yesterday there were two violent incidents which have sparked renewed calls from sections of the settler population for military intervention against the Reclamation Site.
In one case, there are claims that two reporters were beaten up and had the film removed from their camera when they refused to stop filming some First Nations people. In the second case, it seems that some First Nations people surprised US law enforcement (that’s right, George Bush’s puppy dogs straying from their kennel!) officers who were taking photos of people at the Reclamation Site. Here too it is alleged that these “off duty” cops (some reports say border patrol) got the worst of it.
A few points i would like to make before the links to relevant news stories.
Some people like hearing stories about other folks getting beat up, especially if they’re people “on the other side”.
For better or for worst, i’m not one of those. It doesn’t make me happy to hear that people – even people i may really disagree with – are getting hurt.
I do not know the details of what went down yesterday – as soon as i have word from people at the Reclamation Site i will post it – so i must stress that these reports are all from the capitalist media, amplified by the right-wing blogosphere to be sure. So what follows is by no means an official statement from the Reclamation Site or people at Six Nations, it’s just my sharing what i consider common sense advice:
If you’re hanging out in a tense situation, if you’re witnessing people taking considerable personal risk to protect their land, if you find yourself in the midst of a confrontation like the one happening in Caledonia… please respect people’s request that you not take their photo.
Or at least think twice about your decision to not to so.
Remember: the Canadian State and its police guard dogs have been progressively militarizing the media, by seizing video and other material in order to mount criminal cases against individuals. This occurred in the Caledonia standoff as recently as May 20th, when CH TV (the same station whose reporters were injured yesterday) had a tape seized by police who wanted to use it to identify individuals - the station had been given the tape (which was shot by a Caledonia resident) on condition of confidentiality and that the faces of individuals would be obscured.
As the group Canadian Journalists for Free Expression has noted, this is a reoccurring phenomenon in Canada. In June 2001 the RCMP seized videotaped belonging to Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) correspondent Todd Lamirande – the footage included part of a confrontation between indigenous people protesting the Sun Peaks ski resort development and local supporters of the project. Furthermore, “on 15 June 2000, Toronto police seized video footage of an anti-poverty protest at the Ontario legislature on the grounds that they needed media photographs and videotape to help identify participants, as media were able to get closer to the demonstrators than police. Similarly, on 5 April 2000, police in Montreal demanded that television stations Radio Canada and TVA hand over recordings of a protest at which violence had broken out, according to Reporters sans frontières (RSF).”
As the CJFE notes: as a result of such seizures “journalists risk being perceived as adjuncts of the state.”
Again – the above is just plain common sense, and a bit of context for those who wonder why anyone would object to being filmed by the media. I’m not guessing at what the people from the Reclamation Site will say about this – once i hear i will pass it on.
Oh yeah, and US cops got hurt. Ain’t it telling that none of our Canadian nationalists – you know the ones wrapping themselves in the maple leaf and demanding the army come in – twigged to the fact that there were American border patrol cops doing surveillance at the Reclamation Site?!?
OK, so all of that said – here are some storied from Thursday that may give some added context to this:
The above reports – all of which appeared a day before yesterday’s events – suggest that there may be more to reporters’ claims that “the police just stood by and let us be beaten” than may be initially apparent. On Thursday the cop union announced “We need to take a tougher stand – we’re being prevented from doing our job – we need the tools to get the job done” and then… voilà! on Friday two reporters get roughed up and the police make a point of doing nothing.
Some may say this sounds a tad stage-managed…
And now Friday’s events:
While the [Hamilton Spectator] doesn't hesitate to mention that the natives were throwing objects over the fence, it makes no mention of the overtly racist caterwauling coming from the Caledonians. Also, the rocks and beer bottles that were flying through the air came from the settlers, not the natives. The Six Nations people were, once again, remarkably restrained in the face of over-the-top disgusting behaviour by the Caledonians.
I'm also passing on the following reaction i received on an email list to the Hamilton Spectator reporting on last night's settler violence, from someone who was there: