Shawn Brant denied bail

Brant denied bail

Samantha Craggs
The Belleville Intelligencer
Friday, July 06, 2007

Not even the honour of Shawn Brant’s mother could keep the Mohawk activist out of jail on new charges of mischief and breach of recognizance.

Brant’s mother Deanna, a retired teacher, took the stand at Brant’s bail hearing Thursday, offering a $50,000 surety that Brant would not plan, incite or participate in illegal protests between now and his court date. But Judge D.K. Kirkland denied bail anyway.

“It would be dangerous for him to be released at this time because he’s said ‘there’s more to come,'” Kirkland said after a nearly three-hour session.

Brant appeared in court seeking bail on the latest in a series of criminal charges, none of which has been proven in court. The earliest stems back to November 2006, when an accidental clash with Canadian military personnel during an otherwise peaceful demonstration near Deseronto led to two charges of assault and one charge of mischief.

Then in April, Brant led a group occupying a Deseronto-area quarry to block the CN Rail line for 30 hours, halting traffic on the busiest rail corridor in eastern Canada. He was out on bail from that charge when he was the voice of a group of protesters who on June 29, the national aboriginal day of action, blocked County Road 2 protesting First Nations poverty, unresolved land claims and high youth suicide rates, among other issues.

That protest also led to the closure of the rail line and a portion of Highway 401. This week’s arrest warrant, OPP said, relates specifically to County Road 2.

Peter Rosenthal, a Toronto-based social justice lawyer representing Brant, argued that conditions now are different from when Brant agreed on May 3 not to plan or participate in illegal protests. For one, Brant has agreed to step back and let native leaders negotiate, Rosenthal said. For another, he would not jeopardize his mother’s word.

“It’s obvious from the testimony that Mrs. Brant is the kind of surety courts look for,” Rosenthal said. “On those grounds alone, you must be satisfied.”

But Crown attorney Bob Morrison was not. Brant’s mother, like everyone else, knew from various media reports that Brant was talking about blocking Highway 401 and did not try to stop him, he said.

Morrison also took Brant to task when he took the stand on his own behalf, bringing up how open Brant was about breaching his May 3 bail conditions.

“You had no intention of ever complying, did you?” Morrison asked.

“Well…” Brant said. “I actually…no.”

Brant said if released on bail, he would not disrespect his mother’s honour “or place her in a position where I did that,” he said. “That’s not who we are.”

At the same time, “I believe we touched people’s hearts” on the national day of action, he said. “I believe for the first time in 125 years, people gave a shit if our kids live or die.”

The questioning took an unexpected turn when Morrison asked Brant to tell him about his house. Brant said he is building a “longhouse for community events,” about 1,500 square feet, with cherry floors, stone walls and wood ceilings using material he started saving seven years ago when he was on social assistance.

Brant appeared in court after a negotiated surrender to Napanee OPP Thursday morning. He arrived in a car driven by wife Sue, which also carried Dustin Brant, 20, who Shawn Brant said will be the new speaker of the quarry group.

“I hope they don’t believe putting me in jail puts the issue in jail,” Brant told media before his surrender.

In court, Brant wore a green shirt and camouflage pants and was cuffed at the hands and feet. He listened quietly from the prisoner’s box as the Crown read his own words back to him, citing various media reports where he said the first Highway 401 closure was “just the beginning.” OPP officers set up a metal detector in the stairwell leading to the courtroom, screening spectators for weapons.

Kirkland said he admires civil rights defenders such as Martin Luther King Jr. But blockades and other such tactics, he said, are Black Panther-style militancy. Granting Brant bail would be undermining the court, and doing so would contribute to “chaos,” he said.

“We do need people to protest,” Kirkland said. “We do need Shawn Brants to protest…Taking the law into your own hands, however, violates the order of society and is the beginning of the escalation of violence upon violence.”

About four rows of the court room gallery were filled Brant supporters, many of whom wore camouflage clothing similar to that worn on the day of action.

“Sago!” (a Mohawk salutation) some of them called to Brant, raising their fists in unison when court was adjourned. Brant raised his fist back as he was led out of the courtroom.

The preliminary hearing will be Aug. 27.

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CN sues Brant and others, again

Samantha Craggs
The Belleville Intelligencer
Friday, July 06, 2007

Canadian National is slapping another lawsuit on Mohawk protester Shawn Brant for blocking its main Toronto-to-Montreal rail line.

Brant is being sued again — making two active civil suits from the corporation — in relation to parking an old school bus across its rail line during the June 29 national aboriginal day of action, CN spokesman Mark Hallman confirmed the suit Friday.

CN is suing for financial damages incurred when rail traffic was cancelled June 29, Hallman said. The amount has not been specified, although CN has said that $103 million worth of freight is carried on the line during an average 24-hour period. CN halted freight operations and embargoed all traffic that day after hearing native protesters had erected an illegal blockade near Marysville, said a statement released that day.

CN also sued Brant — along with Jason Maracle, Tara Green, “John Doe, Jane Doe and persons unknown” — for a 30-hour blockade of the rail line April 20, and another blockade a year earlier. Also included in the recent lawsuit are “John Doe, Jane Doe and persons unknown.”

Hallman stressed the lawsuit was “related specifically to the actions of June 29. We enjoy very positive relations with First Nations.”

No dates have been set for the suit, nor have the allegations been proven in court.

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brant.jpg

Tyendinaga, June 29th, 2007, Assembly of First Nations Day of (In)Action

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