Albion Monitor /News

Judge's Comments Angers Family, Supporters of Slain Native

by Pearce Bannon
Special to the Monitor

and previous article in this topic
Sarnia, ONTARIO -- Family and supporters of slain Native protester Anthony "Dudley" George were outraged at a recent hearing here by a judge's comments that blamed Natives for George's death during a 1995 battle with police outside Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Their anger exploded outside the court after the Feb. 12 hearing when Natives tried to confront an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer responsible for charging protesters who took part in the park's occupation. They were held back by Sarnia police.

Calls Native protesters "extremely dangerous, violent and assaultive"
In the last of the Ipperwash-related trials, Ontario Judge Greg Pockele found Warren Anthony George, 25, guilty on three charges for driving his car at police during the Sept. 6, 1995 confrontation.

George will be sentenced April 3 on charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon, a car. The judge placed a conditional stay on the third conviction, dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

In his decision, Pockele said native protesters were the "cause of all violence and injuries" during the late-night battle, including Dudley George's shooting death by an OPP sniper.

The protesters may have avoided bloodshed, said Pockele, if they had conducted a "more principled, reasoned, enunciated protest." Instead, he found the Natives were "extremely dangerous, violent and assaultive."

In turn, Pockele said police "should and must use the tools available to them" -- including "a full array of firearms" -- when faced with a threat to their personal safety.

After the ruling, Dudley George's brother Pierre and several other Natives vented their anger outside the court, shouting obscenities and taunts at OPP Detective Constable George Speck as he walked to his car. Police kept the Natives away from Speck while he got in his car and drove away.

George later told reporters his outburst was partly caused by what he says is the "self righteous" stance OPP officers have taken about their role in the fatal confrontation.

He also said Warren George, his second cousin, was only defending his homeland that night along with his brother.

Anger in court as judge reads decision
Dudley George was part of a group of 24 Stoney Point Natives who occupied the park, located on the southeast shore of Lake Huron, two days before the clash to protest its being built over a burial ground. He was shot and killed by OPP Acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane.

Deane was convicted last year of criminal negligence causing the death of an unarmed man. In a decision that greatly angered Canada's Native community, Deane received a conditional sentence of two years community service.

Deane is appealing the conviction and the Ontario prosecutors' office is appealing the sentence.

Dudley George's sister Carolyn George said Pockele's ruling, which absolved police, was "very biased" in favor of evidence given by OPP officers.

"When we choose to move home this is what happens to us as Native people," she said outside. "(The OPP) bring all their guns out, body bags -- they were going to take us right out of there."

Native dissent was also heard in the court while Pockele read his 14-page decision. At one point, a Native man said he had "heard enough" and got up to leave. Upon exiting the courtroom, he yelled "Bullshit."

Speaking outside the court, defense lawyer Jeff House called for a public inquiry into the Ipperwash confrontation. "We think that the proximate cause (of the violence) can be found elsewhere than in the hands of Warren George," he said.

Judge also rejected Cecil Bernard George's testimony that he was severely beaten by police, despite photos of 28 cuts and bruises
The battle at Ipperwash started after a 32-man OPP riot squad, accompanied by an eight-man sniper unit, pushed about 25 protesters from a public lot back into the park. While rocks and stones were thrown at police, Warren George drove his car out of the park and into the lot.

During the trial, House argued George was justified in driving his car at police to help stop the beating of Cecil Bernard George, a band councillor from the nearby Kettle and Stony Point reserve. George's car was following a school bus that also drove from the park.

But Pockele dismissed the justification defense as "unrealistic, illogical and unfounded" because George never testified to seeing "an extensive struggle" between the 43-year-old band councillor and the police.

Pockele also rejected Cecil Bernard George's testimony that he was severely beaten by police after he tried to peacefully convince them to back off their advance on the protesters. Entered into evidence were photos of George's 28 cuts and bruises.

But Pockele said any injuries suffered by George, the only Native arrested that evening, were caused by resisting arrest. Police testimony showed George shouted words of "resistance and violence," said Pockele, and that he later attacked an officer with a metal pole.

Outside court, House said he was "disappointed" Pockele didn't accept the same justification defense he used last year. His client then was a Native youth charged for driving the school bus at police that night. In that case, Ontario Judge Alexander Graham ruled the youth was justified in driving at officers to stop them from beating Cecil Bernard George.

In 1996 Cecil Bernard George was acquitted of assault charges because none of the officers called to testify could identify him as the man who swung a steel pole at a police officer. George's beating is still being investigated.

House said he will not consider an appeal until Warren George is sentenced.

[Editor's note: "Stoney Point protester" is spelled with the "e" in Stoney. "Kettle and Stony Point band councillor" drops the "e" in its Stony. ]

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Albion Monitor February 21, 1998 (

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