Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hamilton musician Tom Wilson and Tahnee Williams, wife of 1492 Land Back Lane spokesperson Skyler Williams, were arrested on Wednesday as the OPP continues to enforce a pair of injunctions related to the occupied McKenzie Meadows housing development in Caledonia.
But Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt is upset that Skyler Williams himself is not in handcuffs.
Williams says he is acting on behalf of a group of Haudenosaunee women who are leading the push to reclaim what they say is unceded Six Nations territory. But in the eyes of the mayor and Superior Court Justice R. John Harper, Williams is the leader of the group that has been occupying the site since July 19.
"Skyler each night can enjoy a peaceful sleep without interruption while many here in Caledonia continue to be at the brunt of their tantrums when the police service is trying to uphold our laws," Hewitt said in a statement, noting that Williams has a warrant out for his arrest.
Const. Rod LeClair said the OPP "does not have any response" to Hewitt’s comments.
Police have arrested 32 people for allegedly breaching the injunctions, some multiple times. Officers made nine arrests while briefly clearing the site on Aug. 5, while other land defenders and sympathizers have subsequently been charged after visiting.
Wilson, of Junkhouse and Lee Harvey Osmond fame, said during a Twitter livestream on Wednesday that he was arrested earlier that day "for delivering food to land defenders at 1492 Land Back Lane, and also I went with a few other musicians to perform for the families there."
"I guess in Canada that’s illegal now," said Wilson, who performed at one of the Land Back music concerts where artists such as Logan Staats, Derek Miller and Big Joe Sharrow have also taken the stage.
The OPP confirmed that Wilson — who has criticized what he considers "state violence and blatant racism" faced by land defenders in Caledonia — was charged with mischief and disobeying a court order, which prevents anyone not authorized by Foxgate Developments from being on the contested construction site.
A 48-year-old man and 40-year-old woman, both of Six Nations, were arrested on Oct. 9, while police charged a 26-year-old Six Nations woman on Tuesday.
Tahnee Williams said the OPP slated her for arrest after she gave a spoken word performance at the Land Back site.
"The criminalization of myself and my people is enraging and heartbreaking," she said, adding that land defenders were being "pulled into a flawed justice system which will only aid developers, the Crown and municipalities in stealing our land."
Hewitt said the occupiers and their supporters are bringing their legal problems on themselves.
"The OPP and levels of government are not criminalizing the protesters at McKenzie Meadows. The court issuing the injunction is not criminalizing them either," he said.
"The only people responsible for being charged with crimes are themselves and those that support and perpetuate the illegal activity. Just because we do not agree with another’s assertion does not mean anyone can step outside of the law to assert their own."
LeClair said the OPP is continuing to gather evidence and more arrests are possible.
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