The Hamilton Spectator
CAYUGA – A call to form a “Caledonia militia” was a publicity stunt to draw attention to the OPP’s “refusal to enforce the rule of law” in native disputes in this town along the Grand River, organizers say.
But local activists Doug Fleming and Gary McHale said they want to organize a citizens’ group called Caledonia Peacekeepers which would be willing to use reasonable force to protect private property from trespassers.
“But the fact is that there have been armed militia in Haldimand County for the past three years … who mask themselves and carry weapons,” said McHale, a well-known anti-native occupation protestor who has drawn the OPP’s ire over his activities. He was referring to native groups involved in occupying or blocking development on land they claim as their own.
At a meeting tonight at the Cayuga Lion’s Club attended by 25 to 30 local residents, McHale said the group’s real purpose was to tell the OPP that “we are not going to allow someone to occupy our land. Either you arrest them or I will. You have five minutes.”
While vague on details, Fleming, a local entrepreneur, said the Peacekeepers would respond to owners’ requests to patrol their property and ask any trespassers to move.
“You ask the person to leave … and if they refuse, all you have to say ‘You are under arrest,’” Fleming said. If they refuse, citizens have the legal right to escalate “reasonable force” to the point of restraining the person, and to even use plastic handcuff-style ties, he said.
At the same time as the meeting, about 70 vocal protesters arrived on buses from Toronto and Kitchener to rally against Fleming’s Caledonia Peacekeepers with shouts of “Go away, KKK.”
“These people have been attracting the support of neo-Nazis and white supremacists,” said Hamilton’s Niki Thorne, an organizer from CUPE Local 3903’s First Nations Support Working Group.
McHale and Fleming said the citizens’ group will create neighbourhood watches and report criminal activity to police.
They will also patrol certain “high crime areas” just like the Guardian Angels, to discourage crime and, in extreme cases, to carry out a citizen’s arrest “which is done hundreds of times each day in Canada,” McHale said.
“This group has to focus the law on the OPP to get them to understand residents will not give up.”