Six Nations warrior pleads guilty to assault on news cameraman

Protester admits to assault on CH worker

November 08, 2008
Barbara Brown
The Hamilton Spectator

A Six Nations protester has admitted roughing up a CHCH news cameraman during a scuffle in a Canadian Tire parking lot over the contentious Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia.

Ronald Erwin Gibson, 38, pleaded guilty yesterday to assault causing bodily harm to Nick Garbutt and possessing a stolen videotape belonging to another cameraman, Ken MacKay.

The charges stem from an incident on the morning of June 9, 2006 when Gibson and a group of men approached MacKay as he was shooting video of native protesters who had surrounded a van in the parking lot, located on Argyle Street not far from the 40-hectare parcel of land at the centre of the dispute.

On Feb. 28 that year, native protesters reclaimed the land being developed by Henco Industries Ltd. for a residential development known as Douglas Creek Estates.

The protesters erected blockades and claimed the land belonged to the aboriginal people of Six Nations. The reclamation resulted in an OPP raid on April 20, 2006, in which 20 people were arrested.

Within hours, the site was occupied in even greater numbers and the blockades expanded. The site is now called Kanonhstaton and remains occupied by Six Nations.

Crown prosecutor Mitchell Hoffman told Ontario Court Justice Kathryn Hawke the group with Gibson was intent on preventing the cameramen from filming the incident involving the van.

“At that time, Ron Gibson was observed by police officers and civilians punching Nick Garbutt in the head. Gibson and others kicked and punched Garbutt several times in the face and head as Garbutt lay on the ground,” said Hoffman.

He said a camera and tripod were forcibly taken from MacKay by one of the men with Gibson. The TV station eventually got the equipment back but not the videotape.

“Gibson advised police that he ended up burning the CH tape,” said Hoffman.

Garbutt was taken to hospital and required two staples to close a gash to his head.

Defence lawyer Stephen Ford requested a special background report that is tailored to rehabilitation programs for aboriginal people be prepared before sentencing on March 31, 2009.

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