Surveillance equipment found in Kanehsatake

Posted by admin on Oct 25th, 2004

Kenneth Deer

During the afternoon hours of Wednesday, October 20 the presence of a remotely controlled video camera was brought to the attention of Kanehsatake residents. The camera was located on the roof of Ratihente High School in a fake stove-pipe. The setup for this camera included a transceiver that was aimed across the river toward the Hudson/Rigaud area. The camera was positioned to monitor the intersection at Ahsennenson (Center Road) and route 344, as well as the former Kanesatake Mohawk Police Station – which is presently being used by community members as the Kanehsatake Community Security Headquarters (KCSHQ).

At present the origins of the camera and its associated equipment is not known. However, Kanehsatake residents suspect that the RCMP, SQ and the KMP are responsible for placing the camera in that location. Community members also suspect that the installation of the surveillance equipment has a twofold purpose; firstly as a precursor to a police action against Kanehsatake, secondly to monitor the movements of community members who are working at the KCSHQ.

The surveillance equipment was disguised as a metal chimney. Apparently, workers appeared at the school on Friday claiming to be Bell Canada technicians to install an experimental radar on the roof of the building. They also claimed to have permission from the owners of the building, the Freres L’Instruction Christianne. However, the two trucks used by the technicians did not have Bell Canada markings, nor did the technicians wear Bell uniforms.

This raised suspicions of community members who then ventured up onto the roof on Wednesday and found the hidden camera and the transmitter.

Camera disguised as a chimney

A call was placed to the SQ office in Oka, which asked to meet with the callers in Kanehsatake. But a few minutes later the SQ called back to ask the caller to meet them at the SQ office in Oka because they had a few documents to show them. The caller refused.

“This is incredible that they can spy on us like that,” Said Steve Bonspille of Kanehsatake. “They wanted us to work together but if this is SQ equipment, then this has thrown any trust out the window. We asked them more than once if we were being filmed and the SQ denied that they were filming us. Now, we can’t trust the SQ anymore.”

According to some community members, the placement of the surveillance equipment is an “agressive and irresponsible move” on the part of the three police forces that are ostensibly threatening Kanehsatake. Aggressive, in that it provokes anger, suspicion, and fear among some community members. Irresponsible, due to the location where they placed the equipment, at a high school were students are apparently being used by these police as a cover for their operation.

“Such actions endanger the children who attend school at that location. “What would have happened if there was a confrontation at the school due to the asinine decision to use the school as an observation post?” asked Clifton Nicholas of Kanehsatake.

On the third floor of the school (which has been closed down due to budgetary cutbacks) there was evidence of occupation for the purpose of surveillance. More than four-dozen used coffee cups were scattered in various locations on the abandoned level, suggesting overnight occupation.

The surveillance equipment is high end, with a price tag in the range of $10,000 or more.

“We ask how the Canadian and Quebec Governments can justify the expenditures of exorbitant amounts of money that are being funneled to house Gabriel in the Laval Hilton and fund his militia while the community not only languishes but is also being further criminalized by the so-called powers that be,” said Nicolas.

A spokesman for Grand Chief James Gabriel’s office said they did not have any knowledge of the surveillance equipment.

In a related announcement yesterday, the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake appointed Terry Isaac as the Chief of Police of the Kanesatake Mohawk Police Force.

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