Shawn Brant freed on bail

Shawn Brant freed on bail

Jeremy Ashley
The Belleville Intelligencer
Friday, August 31, 2007

Mohawk activist Shawn Brant was ordered to stand trial on nine criminal charges before walking out of a Dundas Street West courthouse and into the arms of friends and loved ones Thursday.

Brant, who has spent the last two months in custody, was released on strict bail conditions including not to participate in any demonstrations or protests and not to leave his house for the next 30 days without police permission.

Brant was also ordered to stay away from the Deseronto Road quarry currently occupied by fellow protesters and to report daily to his mother Deanna Brant and family friend Winston Maracle, both of whom put up $50,000 each to the court in collateral to secure his release.

In contrast to his earlier bail reviews, a publication ban was issued Thursday on any evidence presented.

Justice Robert Fournier said the greatest concern in granting Brant’s release “is the chance the person may re-offend.”

The climate has changed dramatically since the National Aboriginal Day of Action at the end of June, in which Brant purportedly lead a group of protesters during blockades of Highway 2, Old Highway 2 and railway lines near Deseronto, Fournier said.

“I think the situation has changed,” said the out-of-town judge, “so the risk has changed.”

After a lengthy diatribe about issues facing native people and the country at large, Fournier looked directly at Brant.

“Mr. Brant, you are raising concerns about a group of people who are very dear to you … (and) I get the feeling the last little while you may have realized the err in your ways. I’m getting the impression you’re getting the picture.”

Fournier also said the reason people are incarcerated before a trial or court proceeding “is to protect, not punish.” He said he didn’t believe Brant was a high risk to re-offend, especially since the money put up for bail by his mother and friend would be lost if he breached the conditions.

Before granting bail, Fournier declared that Brant would face a criminal trial on charges including breaching conditions imposed after he was charged during a Deseronto protest last November, leading a group of Mohawk protesters that obstructed the main CN rail line in April and for apparently co-ordinating the June 29 blockade which obstructed a large section of County Road 2, two CN rail line crossings and led to the closure of part of Highway 401.

Brant is charged with six counts of mischief exceeding $5,000, two counts of breaching his recognizance and one count of failing to obey a court order.

Fournier ordered Brant to return to court for a pretrial hearing on Oct. 5.

In handing down his decision to release Brant back into the community, Fournier said the Tyendinaga resident would not only be making a promise to the court and police to abide by certain conditions, it would be a personal promise to the judge himself.

“I have a fair bit of respect for you now,” the judge said. “I have absolutely no respect for your methods. I hate your methods.”

Fournier said he would release his written decision for sending the matter to trial next week.

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tyendinaga_support.jpg

Trailer at Tyendinaga, visible from Highway 401, burned-down July 20, 2007

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