[Fleming points out that white supremacists need not apply and that he “despises” their beliefs, but-as mentioned elsewhere-he needs to face the elephant in the room: why do these actions attract such company? McHale and Fleming can talk until they’re blue in the face about how much they despise such ideologies of hate, but the simple truth is that their rallies, marches, and now possibly militias, draw out a certain crowd like bees to honey]
Call us ‘Peacekeepers’
Posted By MICHAEL-ALLAN MARION
June 24, 2009
This town became Caledonia for an evening as two bitterly opposed groups faced off Tuesday night with insults and warring news releases at the Lions Club Hall.
Inside the hall, about 30 people in a group that was holding a first organizational meeting of the Caledonia Peacekeepers. A couple of weeks ago the group started by calling itself the Caledonia Militia.
Caledonia protest personality Gary McHale and Doug Fleming, the Peacekeepers founding leader, launched a critique of the OPP’s “race-based policing” that they say goes easy on crimes committed by First Nations people.
They also explained how the new group would monitor and report on crime in Caledonia, be prepared to make citizen’s arrests and carry out an information program to educate people about “what is really going on” in the name of the native land claims dispute.
Above all, Fleming and McHale emphasized that the Peacekeepers would not tolerate anyone in its membership who expresses racist views.
“I’m going to be very blunt, here,” said Fleming.
“My grandfather’s generation fought a war against Nazi Germany to combat that type of thinking. If any of you here have bought into this racist doctrine, I just want you to know this: I despise your beliefs. I couldn’t disagree with you more, and this is not the group for you.”
Outside the hall and across the street, about 100 demonstrators had bused in from various southern Ontario communities to condemn the new group in speeches, signs and literature as racist neo-Nazis, or people who “definitely” had leanings and connections to more prominent organizations of the same ilk.
The protesters, from Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton and Toronto, were bused in by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903, First Nations Solidarity Working Group.
They took full advantage of the new Caledonia group’s early choice of “militia” in its name, as they carried signs reading “Canadians Don’t Want Anti-Native Vigilantes,” “Klan Meeting in Progress,” “Militia Go Home,” and ” Stormfront.org,” the website of a reputed white supremacist organization.
“I’m not saying that Gary McHale and Doug Fleming are neo-Nazi,” but their motives are questionable, one spokesman, Davin Charney, insisted to the media, while police were moving the protesters across the street as they descended from the bus.
Questioned further, Charney said that McHale and Fleming were at least “guilty by association.”
“We oppose the threat of violence and escalation of the problem,” said Niki Thorne, a York University graduate student and member of the First Nations Solidarity Working Group.
“This is a bigger issue. This is not just about Caledonia. We need to settle all land claims in a crisp, peaceful and fair manner.”
Fleming and McHale both said they first decided to call their group a “militia” to get the media’s attention.
McHale said that there has been a native militia in Caledonia for three years.
“Whether they call themselves the Mohawk Warriors, or the Men’s Fire, or the Protectors, or whatever name they want to use, they have been acting an armed militia, using baseball bats and other weapons to intimidate people,” he said.
With the OPP unwilling to enforce the law, the Peacekeepers are dedicated to the “restoration of law and order,” he said.
The new group’s meeting was held in Cayuga, partly because McHale is forbidden by a court order from carrying on his activities in Caledonia.
Tuesday’s confrontation is the latest incident in a re-escalation of tension in Caledonia, more than three years after the occupation of a former housing development by Six Nations Haudenosaunee activists, which they call a “reclamation.”
Last Thursday, the fledgling group staged a silent march past the site, with an equal number of Haudenosaunee activists standing quietly at the entrance.
The march, against the OPP, was a response to the arrest of Fleming’s brother, Randy, about a week earlier for trying to walk down the same road with a Canadian flag.