Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tears, Applause as Activist Freed

The following is one of several documents from the February 2007 report The Criminalization of the Six Nations Land Reclamation.

The Hamilton Spectator
CAYUGA (Feb 10, 2007)
by Paul Legall

Mohawk activist Trevor Miller pumped his fist into the air as he stepped out into the sunlight for his first breath of freedom in six months.

The 31-year-old, who had been involved in the occupation of the Douglas Creek Estates subdivision in Caledonia, had few words for reporters as he emerged from the Cayuga courthouse.

He had just put up $10,000 in cash and two aunts from the Six Nations reserve had each pledged $5,000 to secure his release on bail pending his trial on assault and robbery charges.

"Great. It's been a long time coming," he replied when a reporter asked how he felt.

"I prefer not to talk now. I prefer to be alone," he added as he walked away with his girlfriend.

But his mother, Trudy Miller, persuaded him to come back and have his picture taken with two native activists and his lawyer, Justin Griffin, as they posed with a Six Nations flag in front of the courthouse.

"I'm so proud of him," said Miller who had reached over the railing in the courtroom and hugged her son when she learned he would be getting out on bail.

"He made a stand nobody else had done. He opened a lot of doors." She said Trevor, who wore a Mohawk headdress in court, would be celebrating his release with a traditional native dinner of corn soup and scones.

Tears were streaming down Miller's face after he signed his release papers and finally walked through the railing into the arms of dozens of native and non-native supporters. After a loud round of applause, they all rushed up to hug and kiss him as he walked through the courtroom.

During his incarceration, he had been portrayed as a freedom fighter and political prisoner. He claimed he was defending Mohawk territory when the incident occurred that led to his being accused of assaulting and robbing two CH TV cameramen at a Canadian Tire parking lot in Caledonia on June 9.

He was arrested at the Grassy Narrows reservation north of Kenora on Aug. 8 and had been denied bail until he was released yesterday by Ontario Superior Court Justice Nick Borkovich.

During a bail review yesterday, Stuart Myiou of the traditional Mohawk council was allowed to address the judge on Miller's behalf. In the past, Myiou had offered to supervise Miller and guarantee his appearance in court if he were released on bail.

There was a gag order on yesterday's proceedings. But from the judge's comments during the proceedings, Miller's supporters assumed he was released in the custody of the traditional Mohawk council.

"The judge has shown considerable sensitivity to the situation. He's recognizing the Mohawk council," Griffin told reporters after the hearing.

He suggested Borkovich's remarks recognized the traditional Mohawk council as "the legitimate voice of the Mohawk nation" and that the judge's decision yesterday had set a precedent.

But Crown Attorney Larry Brock, who had opposed Miller's release, pointed out Miller's recognizance order makes no mention of the Mohawk council.

Therefore, Miller had no legal obligation to be under the supervision of the council.

Instead, the recognizance order requires him to live on the reserve with his aunt, Katherine Martin.

Martin and another aunt, Eleanor Miller, had each pledged $5,000 for his release.

As his sureties, they must make sure he abides by his bail conditions and shows up for court.

As part of his conditions, Miller was ordered to stay away from the CH TV cameramen, keep away from the Douglas Creek Estates protest, observe a curfew, have no weapons, abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs and not drive a vehicle.

He must return to court on March 7 to set a date for his preliminary hearing.

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