Arrest of Native caravan under Anti Terrorism Act

Posted by admin on Sep 21st, 2007

Belleville Intelligencer, Samantha Craggs. September 18, 2007.

A group of nomadic Navajo Indians en route to support the aboriginal quarry protest near Deseronto have been arrested, says a member currently at the quarry.  Twenty-eight members of the tribe, an offshoot of the Navajo, were on their way to Deseronto in nine vehicles with 10 horses in tow to show support and respect for a group of Tyendinaga Mohawks, said Spata Desareau, 64, a member of the tribe. They travelled across western Canada without incident, but once in Ontario, were stopped by law enforcement three times – Wawa, Sault St. Marie and finally Kaladar, where they were taken into police custody Sunday, he said. “They’re saying they’re a political organization, which is a way of saying they’re a terrorist organization,” said Desareau of the group ranging in age from two to 72.

“I could understand if it was all warriors coming for a demonstration, but it wasn’t.”

The nomadic group travels the desert from Arizona to the southernmost part of British Columbia, their starting point in a week-long journey to Deseronto, he said. They were coming “to honour (protest leader Shawn Brant) and the people that live here. In western Canada, we have reserves that are very poverty stricken. There are third-world conditions.”

Desareau, who had cellphone contact with the group, said he believes they were taken into custody by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to the Kingston detachment, where he heard they will be held for 48 hours. They were stopped on Highway 41, he said.

It didn’t ring any bells for OPP Sgt. Scott McRae, who said if the group was on Highway 41, the OPP would be policing it.

“I’ve been here all weekend and it’s been very peaceful in that area,” he said. “We don’t know anything about it.”

No one from the RCMP could be reached for comment Sunday.

The group was unarmed, said Desareau, who didn’t believe they would be held a full 48 hours. But it upsets him that they were stopped.

“I don’t believe they have a right to do that,” he said. “They broke no laws other than that they’re native.”

Under Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act, revised after the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001, 48 hours is the length of time a suspected terrorist can be arrested and detained without a warrant.

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