“I was never so frightened in my entire life.” This is how Alberta Doreen describes the experience of having a high-powered rifle aimed at her by a panicked member of the Ontario Provincial Police.
The terrifying incident happened in April 2008 during a land occupation and road blockades by members of Tyendinaga Mohawk Nation, near Belleville, Ontario.
Although the land occupation and road blockades involved only a small number of community members – none of whom were armed -- the OPP responded by deploying more than 200 officers, including several officers with the Tactics and Rescue Unit (TRU). The TRU is tasked with responding to “the most serious threats to peace and order”.
At one point, the situation deteriorated so badly that police, panicked by a false report that a rifle had been spotted, prepared to fire on the land occupiers and on bystanders. When Alberta Doreen arrived at the scene to check on the safety of her son, who was among the land defenders, she was prevented from entering the area by an OPP officer who pointed his rifle at her.
Critically, there has never been any formal, independent review of how and why the police response went so badly wrong.
In December, the UN Committee against Torture called on Canada to address this glaring gap in police accountability by ensuring that a thorough and impartial review is finally carried out.
Join us in calling on the Ontario government to ensure that excessive use of force by police at Tyendinaga in April 2008 is subject to a thorough and impartial review, as called for by independent human rights experts at the United Nations.