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Anti-Native Rights Activist Gary McHale Charged with Assault

Anti-Native Rights Activist Gary McHale Charged with Assault

A public statement by Tom Keefer

March 17th, 2011

Longtime anti-native rights activist Gary McHale has been charged with assault today after he used physical force to repeatedly push Six Nations solidarity activist Tom Keefer at a so-called “truth and reconciliation” rally in Caledonia on February 27, 2011. The incident occurred in the context of an attempt by Gary McHale to provoke members of the Six Nations community by placing a 5 foot high wooden monument at the entrance of the Douglas Creek Estates (known by the people of Six Nations as Kanonstaton “the protected place”) as part of his so-called “truth and reconciliation” rally.

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Filed under 6NSN, Anti-Native Activism, Caledonia, Gary McHale, Racism, White Supremacists

McHale flees, dialogue happens

By Deb O’Rourke

On March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, the Lions Club parking lot in Caledonia is nearly empty except for three flags that flutter in the breeze. While the red and yellow warrior flag and the blue and white chain of Six Nations stand tall, the third flutters red and white between the handlebars of Luke’s bike. The sixteen year old Caledonian threads around the parking lot, bravely alone with his Canadian flag.

These are the first arrivals for a rally called by Merlyn Kinrade to protest “two-tier policing” and discrimination against white people in Caledonia. The guest speaker will be Gary McHale, a right-wing activist from Thornhill whose agitating has made him a major thorn in the side of the OPP.

But before McHale arrives, anti-racist activists from Toronto, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Brantford and Caledonia start to trickle in, to add their own contribution to the argument. As they wait for the rally to begin, the visitors line up on the roadside, greeting passing cars with banners that say things like “McHale is not an anti-racist”, “No to Racism” and “Negotiate Don’t Escalate”.

What especially disturbs these activists, summoned by CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group (FNSWG), and what has drawn me to Caledonia to witness the event, is the appropriation of Martin Luther King’s words to support an anti-native cause.

Niki Thorne of FNSWG explains: “These right-wingers say that they’re anti-racist, that they’re fighting for equality for all. But what they’re really calling for is an end to all land rights and treaty rights for all First Nations people…They’re taking some of the most important principles that we hold dear and are misappropriating them in order to increase tensions and divisions between Six Nations people and Caledonia. Whether they admit it or not, their activity increases the potential for violence against First Nations people.”

Alex Jamieson of Six Nations “wasn’t too sure” about the idea of non-Native supporters of Six Nations showing up to this rally. But now he says: “These people supporting the Six Nations struggle aren’t violent. They’re just expressing their point.… I think it’ll serve a couple of purposes: it’ll bring the issues to the forefront again because its been stagnated for four years. And it brings these two groups face to face.

You’re going to see something. Maybe yelling and shouting, maybe dialogue but at least something’s happening.”
Suddenly, young Luke is not alone with his flag: the organizers of the rally have arrived. The press, including me, chases them for shots and quotes. Most refuse offers of leaflets from the visiting activists, and don’t want to be named. One man who is more than willing to be named turns out to be a right-wing web-media star, London-based Mark Vandermaas who, through his web-site Voice of Canada.ca is one of the promoters of this white-rights appropriation of Martin Luther King’s message.

He tells me he is preparing to talk at the rally about what he refers to as “2-tier justice”: “The issue of whether there is racialized policing or not is not in question any more. It is not a topic of debate. It’s a fact recognized by every major media outlet in Canada. So it’s time to apologize.

“We’re not against Native people. We just want everybody to be treated equally under the law.”
When I ask him if he is aware of the arrests of over 100 Six Nations people on the contested Caledonia ground and elsewhere, he responds: “Let’s talk about the ones who weren’t arrested…”

Then we are both drawn away by the sound of cheers and jeering. To shouts of “Boo! Get a job! Shut up! Go home!” 3903’s Tom Keefer is speaking through a portable sound system and thanking Gary McHale for “taking the initiative” to gather so many locals “to take a stand against racism in Caledonia.”

Then we all get a shock.

In his booming voice, McHale announces that the rally is cancelled: “This should not be allowed. If the natives held a rally here and we tried to approach them, the police would stop us… What’s happening here happens all the time. The natives are permitted to mingle amongst our group until violence breaks out and we get the blame because how dare we hold a rally. So this is now cancelled.

“We’re back here next Sunday at 2 o’clock. We’ll do it every week until the OPP obey their own policies.”
In fact, most of the people here are white: about a hundred who seem to have gathered with McHale, and nearly as many who were called out by FNSWG. As the speech-making, heckling and conversations continue. McHale returns, to try to herd his reluctant flock: “Next week. Don’t argue with anybody. Just go home.”

After calling out a final warning “They’ll try to work you up!” he is gone, with a number of supporters and media.
But over a hundred people remain in the parking lot. With McHale gone, conversation breaks out among visiting anti-racists, locals, and a few Native people. Most people still don’t want to give their names, but I slide from group to group to catch snatches of argument.

FNSWG’s Katie Milley is having an earnest discussion with a gentle middle-aged Caledonia man. When she tells him “What needs to happen is that the government needs to take responsibility,” he agrees: “You’re preaching to the choir there: I wish all land claims were settled yesterday.”

But when they discuss whether the land reclaimed from the proposed Caledonia housing development belongs to Six Nations, he tells her politely: “I’m going to probably disagree with you on that.”

As three smiling teenage girls chant “Caledonia! Caledonia!” locals in hockey jackets are arguing with and teasing young Toronto activists with multiple piercings and strange hair. There is anger, laughter and sometimes ridiculing. But let’s face it, whether you are a stressed-out Caledonian, an embattled Six Nations or a sleep-deprived activist, you sometimes need to vent a little.

One Caledonia mom confronts a young man with naughty words printed on his hoodie. The conversation goes like this:
Fuck White Supremacy hoodie: “I think that by blocking the road you’re going to get the government to listen…
Hockey jacket: “Oh, it affects shit. No–those people should go to McGuinty’s house and keep him in there and see how he feels.”

Friend of hoodie: “Oh, yeah!”

Hoodie: “That’d be good. We gotta occupy Queen’s park. We gotta take over.”

Hockey jacket: “And it’s got to be a lot of people. It’s got to be huge. There’s nothing we’d want more. I’m with that.”

They start laughing at the idea of governing together.

Meanwhile, an intense conversation takes place between a Native and a non-Native man:

Non-Native: “I don’t have anything against anyone because they may happen to live on a reserve, but I’m opposed to the idea of the reserve itself. I don’t like the concept because to me it’s like apartheid.”

Native guy. “South African apartheid was based on the Canadian reserve system. Do you see the irony of using a day that was set up because that apartheid system was destroyed, and then coming here to say that white people are oppressed by native people when it was the reserve system for native people that was the base for South African apartheid?”

This is a timely argument. The International Day for the Elimination of Racism commemorates the day that police opened fire on anti-apartheid demonstrators in Sharpeville, South Africa, killing 69 people. This is the kind of thing that could happen if the OPP took the kind of action people like McHale and Vandermaas advocate. The OPP tried it once, resulting in beatings and many of the criminal charges that Six Nations faces. But hundreds of Six Nations residents left their beds and pushed the taser-wielding OPP off the land that night.

To nearly everyone’s surprise, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism is a pretty good day in Caledonia, resembling the family reunion of a feisty clan. Well, good for everyone except McHale. It appears that even as Caledonians and visitors are conversing, McHale is busy at his typewriter, proving Six Nations member Vince Gilcrist’s contention that he is a “master manipulator” who “puts spins on things” and has “nothing good to say about the natives.”

In a letter to Rick Bartolucci, Commissioner Julian Fantino and Insp. John Periversoff, McHale claims that on this day “the OPP refused to perform their duty and instead endangered the residents of Caledonia by allowing Native Protesters and their supporters to physically confront residents who had gathered for a peaceful protest.”

This letter blames the few Native people present for his discomfort and claims to have “diffused (sic) the situation” by canceling his rally.

It didn’t happen that way, Gary. I was there.

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Filed under Anti-Native Activism, Caledonia, CANACE, Gary McHale, Mark Vandermas, Merlyn Kinrade

Rally shows who the true antiracists are, and it’s not Gary McHale and friends

April 01, 2010

Alyson Mccready
The Hamilton Spectator
(Apr 1, 2010)

Gary McHale used March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to stage an “antiracist” rally on behalf of white people in Caledonia, showed up again the next weekend, and says he intends to keep at it.

This kind of “reverse-discrimination” logic fundamentally misunderstands contemporary power relations in Canadian society. “Reverse-discrimination” is a fallacy that assumes all groups exist on an equal playing field, outside of history. In this case, not only is the field slanted, the field itself has been stolen.

The Day to End Racism has its roots in the long and bloody struggle against South African apartheid. Most people now agree this is an obvious example of an undemocratic system of racist inequality that preserved the privilege and power of the white, colonial-settlers at the expense of indigenous Africans.

But systems of racial discrimination and inequality have a way of seeming more complex when you’re in the midst of them. International scholars and human rights activists are now referring to Canada as an “apartheid” country because of its discriminatory treatment of indigenous peoples, the racialized economic segregation of many Canadian cities, and the legacy of apartheid like laws and residential schools.

Since diverse, multicultural communities having been getting together on March 21 to mourn and to celebrate our common humanity, the Day to End Racism has come under attack by some who feel left out of the party. Some of these are social conservatives who don’t see why we have to go making a fuss about racial diversity.

It’s like Mother’s Day: your kids might say to you “why isn’t there a special day for us kids?” The answer, of course, is that children receive special recognition every day, and so it is with white people in our society. One influential scholar, Peggy McIntosh, kept track of all the invisible little “perks” that she benefited from, just for being white. Many white people around the world participate in the Day to End Racism by reflecting on these unearned privileges and participating in rallies and social events that solidify our commitment to building stronger, more inclusive shared communities.

Then there are far-right and fascist groups that are ideologically committed to maintaining and guarding white privilege, who mobilize against this day (and others) to try to intimidate people of colour and antiracist activists, such as the demonstration in Calgary last week. They often claim to be against racism themselves, only against racism-against-white-people.

McHale used this opportunity to once again bask in the light of public notoriety, staging an “anti-racist” rally on behalf of Caledonia’s white people and claiming that they experience racism and victimization by police and government. McHale has yet to explain why it is that his rhetoric is so appealing to known white supremacists who attend his rallies.

McHale and company erect a “straw man” of “native lawlessness” to steer public attention away from the source of the conflict: The failure of the Canadian government to live up to its obligations to Native people under international law.

International treaty laws, upon which our nation was founded, are the only thing that gives Canada legal legitimacy as a sovereign nation. When we break them, we are actually breaching the terms of our own sovereignty. Canada has allowed settlers, over several generations, to move in on land it swore to reserve and protect, at a time when Natives were prevented from even hiring lawyers. It set up a land-claims system that sees the Canadian government play the accused, judge, jury and executioner.

Numerous international legal scholars agree that Canada’s treatment of Native people constitutes genocide under Article Two of the Geneva Convention and the UN Convention on Genocide (which, shamefully, Canada still refuses to sign).

In a way, it’s no wonder that some Caledonians have supported — or wearily tolerated — McHale billing himself as their spokesman: there is an appalling lack of public education about our shared Indigenous-settler history.

In addition, Caledonians have been largely abandoned by a government that is trying very hard to find a way to avoid honouring its legally binding promises, because of the size of the price tag. Caledonians have been sacrificed to a history of racism and apartheid against Native people that our government refuses to take responsibility for redressing.

To put it bluntly, whether non-natives like it or not, Native people aren’t going anywhere. Neither is the history that led us to this point, nor the legal and moral obligations Canada has to rectify the situation. Rather than just a “Native issue,” this is a settler issue, likely the Canadian issue of the 21st century. It’s about how we want our own communities and governments to behave. Anti-racism means taking this history and responsibility seriously.

McHale and his dubious associates do nothing except fan the flames of racism, ignorance and violence. His demonstration on Sunday was overshadowed by the presence of genuine antiracist activists who condemned his bombastic showmanship and demanded just and lasting solutions from our government, solutions that would prevent future situations like this.

They, and not McHale, acted in the true spirit of the Day for the Elimination of Racism.

Alyson McCready is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. She studies Canadian national identity, colonialism and critical race studies.

http://www.thespec.com/Opinions/article/746238

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Anti-Racists 2, Gary McHale & CANACE 0

Anti-racists scored another decisive victory over Gary McHale this Sunday when more than 40 anti-racist activists joined about 30 of McHale’s supporters for the March 28th “Anti-Racism” rally. The anti-racists held signs stating their opposition to McHale’s approach in Caledonia, but they stood by quietly waiting for McHale and his followers to begin their rally, having made clear before hand that they had no intentions of disrupting the rally or stopping it from taking place.

The following is some video footage showing what happened. Higher quality versions of these videos are forthcoming.

1. Merlin Kinrade uses his megaphone to speak to the quiet and peaceful crowd about why he is unable to speak to the quiet and peaceful crowd. Doug Fleming then takes the megaphone, and like Kinrade continues without interruption to say his thing. Then McHale comes on the scene to blather on to the media — explaining rather incredibly that he is going to charge the OPP for nuisance because they didn’t break up a peaceful rally to separate the two groups.

2. The real reason that McHale didn’t want to continue his rally is because he is afraid that the people that he brings out to his rally will get another opinion on the matter. The FNSWG encouraged its members to talk as much as possible in a spirit of peaceful engagement with people from Caledonia, and here is the result of some of our conversations. As you can see both the people that we brought to the rally and the Caledonia residents are quite able to conduct themselves peacefully as they debate the issues.

3. Here is some footage of the gathering that shows how ‘unsafe and dangerous’ it really was. The song of birds enjoying the spring rain mingles with the hushed tones of Caledonians and out of town anti-racist activists talking about the issues that brought them out. Newsflash to Kinrade: nobody was breaking any laws, we live in a “free” country, and this was a public event. If you want to call a public “anti-racist” rally but are then upset that some anti-racists show up to the event holding signs expressing their belief that anti-racism means having an anti-colonial analysis, then that’s really your problem. This clip closes with FNSWG member Tom Keefer thanking the crowd for coming out and explaining that we did not stop Kinrade and McHale from speaking.

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Filed under 6NSN, Anti-Native Activism, Caledonia, CANACE, Gary McHale, Merlyn Kinrade

A Response to Gary McHale’s March 22nd Smears against Tom Keefer

Editorial Note: Gary McHale recently released a post on his forum discussion board as part of a smear campaign against FNSWG member Tom Keefer. Keefer replied to McHale’s attacks on the forum, but McHale swiftly deleted the post and banned Keefer from his forum. Since McHale won’t allow free and open discussion of the issues on his site, we are posting Mr. Keefer’s since deleted response to McHale below.

http://www.marchforfreedom.com/smf/index.php?topic=587.0

From Tom Keefer: As Gary has launched into his usual smear-a-thon antics against anyone who opposes him, I’m posting the response I sent out a few hours after Gary sent out his message above. For the record:

“Dear Minister Bartolucci, Commissioner Fantino, and Inspector Periversoff,

It would appear that Gary McHale is up to his usual tricks of trying to smear anyone who he doesn’t agree with. And it appears that I’m next on the block so to speak. I have attached the full documents from which McHale has selectively quoted so that you can see the full context of my writings and be able to judge for yourself the accuracy of his claims. Despite his insinuations to the contrary, I have no “history of violence” and nor do I have a criminal record.

It is true that I am on the left wing of the political spectrum, but when our non-native group of about 60 activists came to the anti-racist rally in Caledonia on March 21st, we broke no laws and acted completely peacefully in a spirit of constructive debate and exchange. From my analysis of the situation, Mr. McHale’s issue appeared to be that his flock of supporters were engaging in discussion with the anti-racists from our group and that they were getting another take on the whole affair. This loss of control would appear to explain his increasingly hysterical denunciations of me.

Irregardless of Mr. McHale’s attempt to slander and libel me, members of our group will continue to attend public events held by Mr. McHale and his group in Caledonia. While we have little interest in engaging with Mr. McHale (or Mr. Vandermaas, Mr. Kinrade, or Mr. Parkinson for that matter) we shall continue to enjoy our democratic rights to engage in peaceful and civil political discourse with his followers and to provide them with an alternative way of understanding the conflict. Over the past 4 years we have worked with a variety of native and non-native groups in Caledonia and Brantford to support dialogue and peaceful de-escalation of the conflict. It is our intention to encourage Mr. McHale’s followers to join us in working with these groups and to no longer partake in events organized by Mr. McHale’s group.

We have no intention in providing Mr. McHale with the atmosphere of violence or intimidation that he so earnestly seems to crave, as we are a peaceful group and we fully respect the full flow of debate and the airing of alternative views in our society.

If you would like to get in touch with me, you can do so at this email address or over the phone at 416-XXX-XXXX. More information about our group can be found at http://3903fnswg.wordpress.com/ and https://6nsolidarity.wordpress.com/

Sincerely,

Tom Keefer.”

Attached you will find:

1. The full text of my submission to the Concordia Board of Governors appeal panel which re-instated me as a student in good standing after I was “excluded” from that university (where I was an elected representative of the student union) without due process.

2. My article on Six Nations and Brantford entitled “Declaring the Exception: Direct Action, Six Nations, and
the Struggle in Brantford.”

3. For the full text of my posting to Jeff Parkinson’s website please see http://caledoniawakeupcall.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/opp-fail-to-protect-residents-from-radicals/

And regarding Gary’s attempt to smear me as a supporter of “cop killers” to Ontario’s top cop and the Minister of Community Safety:

Gary, the whole point that I was making about Peltier, Jamal and Hayes, is that there is lots and lots of evidence that shows that they and many other members of the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement that were jailed were in fact victims of police set ups run through COINTELPRO or COINTELPRO-like programs.

So I don’t in fact believe that they are cop killers — we means that I’m not a supporter of cop killers, but rather a supporter of people who I think have been unjustly incarcerated. I maintain that there is lots of good evidence that shows that many of these activists are innocent, but have been targeted for their political beliefs. That was in fact the context of my remarks on this question that you edited out in your letter to Fantino and Bartolucci in your attempt to smear me.

I wrote: [in response to Vandermaas who was attacking me for supporting “Black Panthers”]

“If you were seriously interested in issues of racism and “two tiered” justice, I imagine that you’d be more familiar with the way in which COINTELPRO targeted the Black Panthers and the civil rights movement in America. So yes, we have no problem with supporting victims of state terror such as Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu Jamal or Robert Seth Hayes who have spent long years in jail on trumped up charges manufactured by corrupt and unlawful police agencies, and nor should you (unless you don’t extend your critique of two tiered justice and police misconduct to people with more melanin than you.)”

The point being that if you were actually a serious anti-racist you would support and defend all victims of “two tiered, race based policing” and not just those relating (as you claim) to white people. I should also add that it’s not just left wingers or “conspiracy theorists” who think that the FBI was corrupt and out of control, the US Senate investigated the FBI over COINTELPRO in the 1970s, and their investigation came to the conclusion that:

“Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that…the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO

So Gary do you denounce COINTELPRO and support the innocent victims of police frame-ups, or do you refuse to do so because these targets of illegal state repression have a different skin color than you and/or left wing politics? And if you do support them, then does that make you a “supporter of violence” too?

Tom.

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