Shawn Brant's Arrest – Statement by Sue Collis, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
(May 4th, 2008) Eight days ago, on Friday, April 25th, 2008, my
husband, Shawn Brant, was arrested and detained on assault and weapons
charges. Since that time, Commissioner Julian Fantino and the Ontario
Provincial Police have issued numerous public statements that have
wildly and, it seems, purposefully misstated the events leading to my
husband's arrest, and sought to vilify and criminalize him personally.
I believe it is important to the public good for people to understand
the circumstances that have lead to Shawn's incarceration at this
time. Those circumstances are as follows:
On Sunday, April 20th, 2008, the community of Tyendinaga responded to
threats from a Kingston developer to bring "a crew of 25 to 30 guys",
in order to begin development on a property which falls within in the
Culbertson Tract land claim. Mohawks from Tyendinaga did peaceful
road closures on Highway 2, adjacent to this proposed development site
on Mohawk land.
My husband Shawn has been living and complied with very strict
conditions imposed when he was charged in relation to community rail
and highway blockades on the June 2007 Aboriginal Day of Action. One
of his conditions is not to attend protests. During the evening of
Monday, April 21st, 2008, my husband was some distance away from the
road closures erected in response to the Kingston developer, talking
to a Tyendinaga community member, while he also checked a nearby creek
During this conversation, Shawn became aware of some commotion down
the road, and made his way towards the commotion, parking his car some
50 feet away from where a small group of people was gathered on one
side of the road. The first thing Shawn saw a 10-year-old girl
shaking and crying uncontrollably. He had no idea what was going on.
As he approached the scene, someone yelled "Shawn help us!" The little
girl screamed, "They hurt my Mommy! They're gonna hurt my Mommy."
Someone else yelled, "He has a ball bat!" At this time, Shawn noticed
two trucks were parked facing the people who were in obvious distress.
Shawn returned to his car and retrieved his fishing spear. By the
time Shawn returned to where the people were gathered, the occupants
of the trucks were back inside their vehicles. Shawn shouted at the
occupants of the trucks to leave. The windows were so tinted that he
could not make out their faces. The drivers of the trucks sped away
with such force that one of their truck tires was raised in the air,
spraying much gravel and stone at the women and the child, some of
which they later discovered was imbedded in their skin.
Shawn turned his head to avoid catching stones in the face, and held
out his spear in an effort to create some distance between the group
of Mohawks and the trucks, out of concern that those in the vehicles
would strike those on the road with their vehicles. The trucks then
sped away. That is the extent of Shawn's interaction with the
individuals he is now charged with assaulting. To be clear, he is
charged with assaulting the men in the trucks.
A 911 call was made during this incident on April 21st, 2008, in which
the trucks' licence plates were recorded. Shortly thereafter, the
women made statements to the police, identifying the men driving the
trucks as known Deseronto inhabitants, subsequently identified as
Jamie Lalonde and Mike Lalonde. The women also testified in police
statements that one of the men swung a club at them, drove one of the
trucks into them, and threatened further violence. The women also
described being injured by flying stones, and described the trauma
endured by the young girl. No one but Shawn has been charged.
The men from Deseronto sought out this group of people, deliberately
caused them injury and issued threats of further violence. They were
targeted for assault and abuse for no other reason than that they are
Native. The actions taken by the men from Deseronto were driven by
bigotry and racial hatred. By definition, these were hate crimes.
Again, no one but Shawn has been charged.
The men are presumed to have filed a complaint against my husband,
resulting in a police search of his car on Friday, April 25th, when
his fishing spear was taken from his car, and charges of assault and
possession of a weapon – the spear – were laid. My husband remains in
prison, in maximum security, as a result.
It is our understanding that the prosecution is seeking yet another
publication ban on all future court proceedings in this matter. A
pattern has emerged with respect to my husband, Shawn Brant. The
police and prosecution make sensational and vilifying statements about
Shawn in the media, and then seek a publication ban during court
proceedings, when the actual evidence is introduced. The starkly
different narrative of events that emerges in court is withheld and
the public forbidden from hearing it. The version of events I have
just presented will all but disappear.
Less than a month ago, my husband was acquitted of charges he carried
for more than 18 months. When issuing the ruling in this acquittal,
the judge described the investigative practice and evidence employed
and presented by the cops and the Crown as "problematic" and
"troubling," as they related to Shawn. During this same period, CBC
Radio aired a documentary in which several Mohawk people recounted
conversations with OPP Commissioner Fantino that occurred during the
2007 Aboriginal Day of Action, in which they say he threatened to
"ruin" Shawn. During Shawn's detention at the Napanee OPP detachment
last week, several different police officers threatened to "slit his
throat" and "cut off his head."
As I deal with the tears of young children who have been robbed of
their father once again, Commissioner Fantino claims the OPP is an
apolitical and professional organization, dedicated to upholding the
rule of law. The events of the past week indicate it is anything but.
- Sue Collis
Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
from the Tyendinaga Support Committee:
Friday May 2, 2008
Tyendinaga Mohawks are currently standing strong at the quarry site,
last week's roadblocks have been removed, and police presence in the
immediate vicinity of the territory has decreased, although OPP remain
present in the surrounding areas.
Of the three Mohawks who remained in jail after last Friday's arrests
and stand-off, Matthew Kunkel was released on bail yesterday. Clint
Brant was denied bail today, and remains in prison in Quinte Regional
Detention Centre in Napanee, as does Shawn Brant. Shawn will appear
in court on Tuesday, for scheduling purposes.
Given that Shawn Brant has only just beat the previous set of
trumped-up charges (acquitted of all charges relating to the incident
involving Canadian Army solidiers in November 2006) a mere two weeks
ago, Shawn's legal counsel is currently assessing how best to deal
with this new set of fabricated charges.
Shawn's arrest sparked off police actions which led to the jailing of
four other Mohawks, the OPP puling their weapons on community members
at the reclaimed quarry site, and a weekend of tense stand-offs and
Please stay tuned for further updates next week.
To send letters to Clint Brant or Shawn Brant:
Quinte Detention Centre
89 Richmond Blvd
Napanee, ON K7R 3S1
- Tyendinaga Support Committee
Monday April 28th, 2008
After a tense exchange this morning, in which the OPP informed Mohawk
spokesperson Jason Maracle to get people out of the area or they would
come in, the OPP instead disbanded a Mohawk roadblock erected on the
perimetre of the reclaimed quarry site. This psychological warfare on
the part of the police resulted in a tense face-off between the OPP
and community members. At present, the OPP has removed one of the
roadblocks on the Slash Road and pulled back, but remains present in
the direct vicinity of the quarry in great numbers. At the centre of
the dispute is the Culbertson Tract, land which rightfully belongs to
the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. Community members have been occupying a
gravel quarry site for over a year.
In addition, a blockade of Highway 6, taken in support of the
Tyendinaga Mohawks, continues by people of the Six Nations of the
Grand River Territory. Six Nations community members have said they
will remove the Highway 6 bypass blockade once they receive
confirmation the OPP have withdrawn from the Mohawks of Tyendinaga.
The road is now barricaded with a downed hydro tower, wires and a
Important to note is that, despite the reporting in mainstream press,
Mohawk spokesperson Shawn Brant's arrest on Friday, April 25th stems
from an incident which took place on Monday April 21st. Specifically,
Shawn Brant has been charged for his role in allegedly preventing
further attacks on a woman from Tyendinaga and a young child by racist
rednecks from the town of Deseronto.
These new charges were laid less than two weeks after Shawn Brant was
acquitted of charges alleging that he threated Canadian Forces
soldiers during a demonstration to prevent development of the
Culberston Tract in 2006.
Once again, for his role as a spokesperson in the community, Shawn
Brant is facing trumped-up charges. Arrested during an interview he
was conducting with APTN, Shawn's final words during his arrest on
Friday were "This is it, justice for first nations communities: lock
us up. Anybody who speaks out, lock-em up. KI6, Bob Lovelace: lock-em
up...Don't fix the problems, lock-em up." (to watch, click on
Supporters rushed to the quarry after watching or hearing of Shawn's
arrest. An altercation with the OPP is alleged to have ensued. Four
Mohawks were then arrested and jailed. The OPP were reported to have
drawn their guns on the Mohawk community members remaining the quarry.
According to Mohawk spokesperson Jay Maracle, "The OPP led us into
this incident by jumping five of our men, arresting them and taking
them to jail and then sticking guns in our faces, in women and
children's faces," he said.
There has been open communication between the Mohawks and the OPP but
Maracle said things will not improve unless OPP retracts a statement
indicating there are armed Mohawks at the quarry. He said there are no
guns at the site.
Matt Kunkel, Clint Brant, Dan Doreen, and Steve Chartrand remain in
custody and will appear in bail court in Napanee today. The group
includes Dan Dorene, spokesperson for the Mohawk blockade on Highway 2
one week ago, erected to prevent development on the Culberston Tract,
land which rightfully belongs to the Mohawks.
A couple from the community who were also arrested by the OPP on
Friday were later were released unconditionally.
Shawn Brant will also likely appear in court today.
This brings the total number of First Nations people in Ontario jails
for defending their land to 12.
- Tyendinaga Support Committee
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. Listen to the recent CBC radio documentary:
The Long Hot Summer
The Current CBC Radio 99.1FM
Link to hear the documentary at:
In June 2007, thousands of native Canadians turned out for the
national Aboriginal Day of Action, a day of peaceful protest designed
to educate non-native Canadians about the issues that plague native
communities. Despite concerns of violence, the day came and went more
or less peacefully. Those in power -- native and non-native --
congratulated each other on how well it all went and concluded that
the predicted "long, hot summer" of aboriginal discontent had been
skillfully, peacefully and -- in the most Canadian of ways -- quietly
averted. But that very nearly wasn't the case. And the day came closer
than most people realize to ending with a violent confrontation.
Freelance broadcaster Susanna Kelley investigated what happened that
2. Donate money to the Tyendinega Legal Defence Fund, which divides
funds raised between Shawn's legal costs and maintaining the quarry
reclamation site. Cheques can be made out to "Tyendinaga Legal
Defence Fund" and mailed to the address below.
3. Host a facilitated workshop or information session with a member of
the Tyendinaga Support Committee. Contact us at email@example.com
4. Put forward a resolution in your local or organization in support
of Shawn Brant and the struggle of the
Tyendinaga Mohawk community to reclaim their land.
5. Officially endorse the TSC campaign to support Shawn Brant's legal
defence and the quarry reclamation site by contacting us at
6. In Toronto, contact us to become actively involved in the work of
the TSC and come to one of our meetings.
7. Visit our website to sign an online petition or to join our
mailing list: http://www.ocap.ca/supporttmt.html
Tyendinaga Support Committee
c/o 10 Britain St. Toronto ON
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