5 Arrested in Cayuga Blocking Police Escort of Garbage onto Native Land
OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) determined to escort garbage into the Edwards Street Landfill, but even after arrest of 4 supporters, Six Nations activists refuse to remove blockade. OPP violently arrest Six Nations man leaving the site.
December 11, 2008
CAYUGA, ONTARIO, CANADA – For almost five years, community members from the small town of Cayuga have been fighting to close down and to clean up the Edward Street Landfill. Haldimand Against Landfill Transfers (HALT) was formed in 2004 to prevent one of Ontario’s worst contaminated sites, from becoming an active landfill again. After having spent four years in and out of courts, petitioning and dealing with government bureaucracy, HALT approached the Six Nations’ Haudenosaunee Men’s Council to work together on this issue. Cayuga is adjacent to the Six Nations reservation and is located on Haudenosaunee land. It was last November that representatives from Six Nations and HALT turned around dump trucks, resulting in the closure of the site for the winter. This past Monday, despite flagrant noncompliance with Ministry of Environment (MOE) regulations, the dump’s operating owners tried to bring garbage into the dump for the first time in twelve months.
Monday morning, thirty activists—with groups coming from London, Kitchener-Waterloo (KW), Guelph, and Hamilton—converged at the corner of Brooks Road and Highway 3 in Cayuga, to stand with representatives from HALT and Six Nations.
“The reason there are young people here from communities across the region is because we have a responsibility to prevent the provincial government, the courts, and their enforcement – the OPP, from enabling the destruction of communities’ land and trampling on their right to protect it,” said Alex Hundert from the KW activist group AW@L.
Once the blockade had ended, a vehicle leaving the site, carrying three people from Six Nations, was pulled over by a large string of police cruisers, and one man was violently arrested. At bail-court the next morning, the Crown prosecutor admitted that the accused man from Six Nations only “passively resisted,” but still, more than a dozen officers were involved in the assault. He was ripped from the car, thrown to the ground then kicked and tasered repeatedly. He was arrested for “failure to appear” charges stemming from an incident at the Douglas Creek Reclamation site in 2006—the original charges have already been dropped. All five arrested men were released on bail Tuesday morning.
Jody Orr, a HALT representative, said that she was “distressed by what happened on Monday. We have a situation where there is evidence that the receiver is still not in compliance,” however “we have the MOE giving the receiver a week to bring in garbage while he is still in violation of the COA, and it puts the OPP in a position where they have to enforce an injunction against protesters who are protesting the illegal dumping of garbage.” Orr said she was also “really concerned in terms of what i heard about the level of force that was used.”
According to HALT’s website, on October 16 of this year, “the same day that Minister of the Environment, John Gerretsen, posted the Zero Waste Policy paper on the Environmental Bill of Rights website, HALT and others involved in the Edwards Landfill issue in Cayuga received an email that waste would be coming to the Edwards Landfill site.” HALT has shown that the Landfill does not comply with the MOE’s Certificate of Approval (COA). Still, garbage is being allowed into the site. As a result, HALT, Six Nations and supporters decided to be ready with the blockade.
On Monday after the arrests, once it became obvious that representatives from Six Nations were not going to stop preventing the garbage truck from passing (all other vehicles were permitted to travel freely), the truck company owner ordered the truck to leave the site and return home. Earlier in the morning, the driver had expressed interest in leaving the scene, however OPP ordered him to stay. Police said that they were intent in seeing that the injunction against the blockade would be enforced. Even after arresting four supporters, the OPP were not able to remove the Six Nations activists blocking the road.
Over the past year and more, HALT has been involved in complicated legal proceedings with the site’s operators and the MOE. Since 2004, those efforts have cost over $100,000. For more information about those proceedings, ongoing developments, and the environmental impact at the site, visit HALT’s website, http://www.haltthedump.ca.