Mohawk Warriors vow to storm border post - U.S.-Canada border closed
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Sent: Monday, June 01, 2009 7:58 AM
Subject: Mohawk Warriors vow to storm border post - U.S.-Canada border closed
Mohawk Warriors vow to storm border post
News ServicesJune 1, 2009
Mohawk Warriors from the Akwesasne reserve near Cornwall, Ont. say they will storm a Canada Border Services Agency post today and shut down the international border crossing unless their political leaders receive a commitment from the federal government not to arm border guards at the post, which stands on reserve territory.
CBSA officers are scheduled to begin carrying 9 mm handguns today. The Mohawks say they don't want armed guards because it would violate their sovereignty and increase the likelihood of violent confrontations.
"We are going to clear them out," said Thomas Stacy, a middle-aged former professional wrestler who stood across from the border post with a small group of young men carrying large Mohawk Warrior flags on Saturday.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
U.S.-Canada border closed by Akwesasne protest of guns at crossing
Border guards leave posts for U.S.
Posted 4 hours ago
CORNWALL - The Seaway International Bridge was shut down before midnight on Monday when the Canada Border Services Agency left their posts on Cornwall Island to avoid a violent confrontation with the Mohawks of Akwesasne over a contentious arming issue.
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Grand Chief Tim Thompson attempted to negotiate a compromise with officials as the June 1 deadline to arm the border agents with hand guns neared when, according to the grand chief, the CBSA decided to vacate the customs and immigration building at 11:50 p.m. "for their own personal safety."
At the time, Thompson said there were up to 400 residents of Akwesasne First Nation camped near the building, which is located in the middle of the Mohawk territory, at the crossroads.
He asked for access to the building to negotiate but was denied.
"They just up and left," Thompson said. "I think it was their plan all along."
Thompson said the estimated eight to 10 officers headed south towards the U.S., which has also closed down its customs building in New York State, because of the large number of people blocking their way to Canada.
The crowd cheered when they heard the news, said Thompson.
In the meantime, Thompson says his people will continue to camp out at the intersection of Island Road and International Road until the federal government agrees to negotiate the terms of the CBSA arming.
The grand chief received a letter with Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan's name on it at 6 p.m. Sunday saying the CBSA would going ahead with the arming. Thompson noted the letter didn't have a signature on it.
Council spokesman Brendan White said the bridge closure is a peaceful but temporary resolution to a situation that could have boiled over into violence under different circumstances.
The community has filed numerous complaints of harassment and human rights abuses by particular border officials over the years and feels arming them would only increase the chance of violent confrontations.
Thompson has said throughout May that the council wanted the Mohawks to rally against the arming of the officers peacefully, a request they've appeared to respect during three rallies and a month-long sit-in.
"It's a small victory," added White, "but we still have a long way to go."
Thompson believes recent media reports suggesting the Mohawk Warriors are a violent faction of Akwesasne poised to respond violently to the CBSA arming are unfair.
How long the bridge will remain closed is the big question now; one White said he doesn't have an answer for just yet.
White said only emergency vehicles were being allowed on and off the island, while provisions were made for elders who need oxygen tanks or other health considerations.
The bridge closing forced many U.S. and Cornwall Island residents to find a place to stay in Cornwall for the night or hike across the bridge because the Cornwall police wasn't allowing vehicles to cross the bridge.
Manager Troy Mitchell of the St. Regis Majors lacrosse team walked across the bridge with his players, all of them carrying their equipment.
The team's bus was turned back at the bridge, leaving them to walk to their vehicles at the strip mall on Cornwall Island.
Two youths who live on the island wondered if they could get home in the truck they drove, but were told they could only cross the bridge on foot.
One youth laughed when he heard the CBSA had left the customs building.
Cornwall police Staff Sgt. Pierre Pilon and Seaway Bridge manager of operations Wade Dorland were on the scene at the bridge's entrance. They both said the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service requested the Cornwall end of the bridge be closed, but White believes the request originated from the CBSA.
Pilon said pylons would be put up to divert traffic while two patrol units would blockade the bridge.
The police allowed vehicles leaving the island to enter Cornwall.
A large white pickup truck managed to run the blockade at high speed and drive over the bridge to the island. Police officers didn't pursue the vehicle.
Several other drivers waited for over an hour, some honking impatiently, before giving up and turning around.
Pilon said signs on Highway 401 were programmed to tell truck drivers headed to the U.S. through Cornwall to pull in at local truck stops until the bridge is opened.
Copyright © 2009 The Cornwall Standard Freeholder
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