Mohawks get conditional discharges

Two Tyendinaga protesters have received conditional discharges and a year’s probation for their role in a protest that blocked the Skyway Bridge near Deseronto.

Terry Maracle, 30, and Benjamin Loft, 31, were sentenced Friday in Belleville court by Justice Stephen Hunter.

Conditional discharges mean the pair won’t serve jail time, nor will they have criminal records stemming from the case.

Each had pleaded guilty to a charge of committing mischief to property by blocking the bridge to Prince Edward County.

During their probation they must be of good behaviour, not interfere with the “lawful enjoyment of public and private property” and refrain from taking part in unlawful protests, Hunter said.

A mischief charge against fellow protester George Zachariah, 66, was withdrawn by Hastings County assistant Crown attorney Jodi Whyte.

The sentences match those given to other protesters from the same event, Whyte said.

Whyte said the blockade occurred June 7 through 12 and was in support of Mohawks on the Akwesasne reserve. There had been demostrations there over the arming of customs inspectors, Whyte said. The reserve borders Ontario, Quebec and the United States.

Whyte said police of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory spoke with protesters and offered to restrict traffic to one lane to allow the activists to hand out pamphlets about their cause.

“This was not considered” by the protesters, said Whyte.

Tyendinaga Police Chief Ron Maracle told the group there would be repercussions if the blockade p>Instead, said Whyte, protesters erected buildings and lit fires on the road and later ignored a message from Akwesasne officials asking them not to continue with the blockade.

Justice Hunter agreed with the sentence. It had been submitted jointly by Whyte and defence counsel Greg Brant, averting the day’s scheduled trial.

Related charges against Loft and Maracle were withdrawn.

Two other men were also scheduled to be on trial but to Whyte’s clear frustration had the case postponed.

“It’s a year-and-a-half old,” said Whyte. “I’d like to see this thing brought to an end as quickly as possible.”

Dave Baberstock, 46, said he was in the process of changing lawyers. He faces two counts of mischief to property.

Stacey Boots, 39, did not appear in court. He also had not appeared for a trial date in October. Boots is charged with two counts each of obstructing a peace officer, assaulting a peace officer and mischef to property.

Hunter set the case for Dec. 10 in Belleville, saying an arrest warrant for Boots would be released if he again failed to appear.

This entry was posted in resistance and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.