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(en) Canada, NEFAC Strike! #2 and Kanehsatake: Fighting colonialism at 'home' By George 'Mick' Sweetman, Punching Out, NEFAC Toronto

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 3 Jul 2004 08:13:23 +0200 (CEST)


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Kanehsatake - In the past couple of months there has once again been
serious repression and resistance in the small reservation of Kanehsatake,
50km from Montreal and the site of the famous 1990 police / military
siege and armed defense by the community known as the "Oka crisis".
At the heart of the conflict is an attempted takeover of policing on
the reserve out of the hands of the established, professionally
trained, and local Kanehsatake peacekeepers. The opponents have been
described as a political militia consisting of people from outside the
community, that are loyal to the band-council Grand Chief James Gabriel,
who as far back as 2001, was defeated in a community vote of no-confidence.

"People really consider him a court-ordered chief," Kanesatake
resident Chrystal Nicholas told CBC Newsworld on May 6th "We
don't consider him a duly-elected chief…James Gabriel has no
influence in this community."

On January 12, 2004, Gabriel, fresh from being 're-instated' by
colonial (Canadian) courts, unilaterally replaced local Police Chief
Terry Cross. In addition to being the brother of Ronald Cross
(AKA "Lasagna" of the 1990 defense) he has 8 years of
experience as a formally trained peacekeeper, is ex-military
including two overseas tours, and is an ordained minister of the
church. In short, he is hardly the type of man easily portrayed as a
dirty cop with ties to "organized crime."

Cross' replacement was a man named David Ed Thompson.
Thompson immediately tried to take control of Kanehsatake in
what some residents called an 'outside invasion' of 60 armed men
hand-picked by Gabriel. It was the equivalent of a neo-colonial
Coup d'état. Claiming that he was cracking down on
"organized crime" the best Gabriel could come up with was that
native-produced cigarettes were being sold for $25 a carton at
various shops in Kanehsatake who refused to charge Canadian
taxes on them.

Clearly this was a pre-text, widely promoted in the Canadian
media, for his paramilitary coup. It could be argued that Gabriel
and the Canadian state were still enforcing the colonial 1876
Indian Act that made it illegal for an 'Indian' to sell or produce
goods without permission.

This militia includes criminals such as Richard Walsh who was
found to have 16 convictions in the last twelve years ranging from
fraud to impersonating a police officer, to possession of a
prohibited weapon. Walsh was also at the centre of the 2001
no-confidence vote where it was revealed that he was paid over
$100,000 from community funds as a Mohawk language teacher,
a scuba consultant, and a janitor, according to John Harding, one
of the chiefs of the Mohawk council of Kanehsatake.

Other notable militia members include Larry Ross and Robert
Bonspiel, who were involved in the shooting of Joe David in
1999. Joe David was a Mohawk Warrior known as Stonecarver
during the Oka Crisis who was shot in the back after a long
standoff with the police. Though paralyzed Joe David survived
until mid-May 2004 when the same officers were preparing to use
force against Kanehsatake once again as part of establishing a
'joint patrol' with the provincial Sûreté du Québec (SQ)
and the federal RCMP.

Yet another, Mike Stalk, was himself recently fired from the
Kahnawake Peacekeepers and is currently facing charges for
allegedly assaulting his former colleagues.

However, the community of Kanehsatake resisted the coup
barricading the highway that passed through the reserve and
forcing Gabriel's militia, who earlier in the day had tear-gassed
demonstrators, to cower inside the local police station for 24
hours. While the unarmed protesters refused to allow armed
militia members to patrol the community, they agreed to allow
the dozen local Kanehsatake peacekeepers to resume their duties
under Terry Cross should the armed militia leave the reserve.
Later that night Gabriel's house was torched by persons
unknown, as Gabriel and his militia fled the community (taking
firearms from the police station as they left).

For the next couple of months Kanehsatake was patrolled by
legitimate peacekeepers from the Mohawk community of
Kahnawake who, according to Kanehsatake Chief John Harding,
"Found little if any criminal activity during that time and
absolutely no evidence of the existence of organized crime, grow
operations, or a burgeoning drug trade. Their observations, like
Tracy Cross' before them, were that the allegations made by
James Gabriel had no merit whatsoever. Quebec Public Security
Minister Jacques Chagnon himself personally stated that he
observed no law and order problems during his recent
unannounced visit to the community".

No doubt feeling that he had bided his time long enough Gabriel's
militia once again threatened to invade in mid-May backed up by
armed SQ and RCMP officers.

Fortunately, a confrontation between community members and
Gabriel's militia on Monday May 5th ended without bloodshed.
However, the situation quickly escalated, as shortly afterwards
Quebec Public Security Minister Jacques Chagnon announced
that he would help Gabriel mount a joint SQ, RCMP and
'Peacekeeper' operation aimed at "restoring order".

As this unfolded, Kahnawake Grand Chief Joe Tokwiro Norton
responded to a written plea signed by 28 Kanehsatake women
calling on him for assistance. In a strongly worded statement,
Norton called upon Chagnon to demand that Gabriel agree to
mediation in resolving the disputes in the community.

"The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is extremely concerned
about the volatile and dangerous situation in Kanehsatake. We
are especially concerned that the actions being contemplated
(sending in a combined force of SQ, RCMP and Kanehsatake
police into Kanehsatake) could potentially lead to
bloodshed…Mr. Chagnon needs to send the strongest message
possible to Mr. Gabriel: accept mediation or be prepared to accept
full responsibility for whatever happens," Norton said.

The Quebec state backed down, at least for now, not only
canceling the joint patrols but also refusing a request from
Gabriel for an additional $1.5 million in funding (in addition to the
$900,000 he had already recently received).

However, in a provocative move, 24 members of the community
have been charged with "participating in a riot" and "forcible
confinement of police officers." These charges stem from the
individuals' presence at the demonstration outside of the
Kanehsatake Mohawk Police station on January 12th and 13th.

Kanehsatake remains a tense community calling for Mohawk to
Mohawk mediation to end the dangerous situation posed by
Gabriel's militia, the SQ, and the RCMP.

Numerous anarchists and activists from Toronto and Montreal
have already traveled to Kanehsatake to help with checkpoint
duty and other chores, as well as to help get the word out about
what's really happening there.

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) has played a
modest role in organizing non-native support for Kanehsatake
organizing a couple of caravans to the community in recent tense
weeks as well as by publicizing news from our allies Kanehsatake.

This support has grown out of the years of solidarity that working
class Mohawk activists have shown OCAP. We have marched,
fought,and have been arrested together in various
demonstrations.

The time is now for working class internationalists (Mohawk
Territory is NOT part of Canada) to to extend our solidarity to the
community of Kanehsatake in this time of turmoil making
concrete our support against the establishment of a criminal,
unaccountable, paramilitary, neo-colonial Coup. If we are to build
real solidarity between the overwhelmingly poor and working
class 1st nations people and the 'Canadian' working class we
simply cannot stand aside as 'our' government tries and prop up a
neo-colonial paramilitary occupation in Kanehsatake.

*******************************************

This article is a preview of the debut issue of "Strike!"

Strike! is a tabloid newspaper covering the ever important
struggles of working people in the Northeast and across the
world. From community and workplace resistance, to the fights
against racism and sexism as well as international turmoil, the
struggles that rock your world are brought to you here with a
fresh anarchist-communist perspective.

Strike! is the English-language agitational publication of the
Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC). We
are bilingual federation of revolutionaries who identify with
communist tradition in anarchism. Our activity in the last few
years has focused around radicalizing the broad struggles of our
class, in the streets, in our workplaces and in our neighborhoods.

Strike! has come to exist after a long process of rethinking our
agitational publications following the end of Barricada magazine,
which for a time was a NEFAC affiliated magazine.

In this issue of Strike!, you will find articles on rank and file labor
struggles, tenant union organizing, eco-racism, indigenous
struggles, and direct action in the streets! Plus, there is a regular
column about GI resistance within the military, and a
pro-queer/feminist advice column.

Strike! can be obtained in most large cities in the Northeast.
NEFAC members will be making a special efffort to have it
available in community centers, left bookshops and at picket lines
and demonstrations.

Bulk orders and subscriptions can be made with the Stelton
Anarchist Collective: PO BOX 3107 New Brunswick, NJ 08903,
or contact: skip@nefac.net

For letters to the editor, content questions, submissions, and
press exchanges, contact Class Action at: classaction@nefac.net

Also, brand new issues of NEFAC's other publications (The
Northeastern Anarchist, Ruptures and Cause Commune) are set
to hit the newstands very soon!

Link: http://nefac.net


Link: http://nefac.netSecurity Advisory Council, which is run by
the State
Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Lawrence Police this week visited conference organizers with an
information pack from the Leavenworth Police Department.
Leavenworth Police officials did not return calls requesting
comment.

"We don't think that they'll be a problem," Lawrence Police Sgt.
Daniel Ward said Wednesday. "If a problem does arise, we'll
respond appropriately."

The event has been endorsed by a variety of Midwest left-leaning
organizations, including the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and
Justice.

"They're trying to draw some attention to some serious problems
today in the United States and in the world," said Allan Hanson,
the coalition's coordinator.

Strano said he hoped that conference participants would be
moved to go beyond election-year politics into regular action.

"We want to get people to think about what they can change on a
daily level," he said, "as opposed to once every four years."


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