“It’s hard to separate my arrest with the criminalization of Indigenous people generally. …I’ve worked in court for several years. I’ve seen first hand how racist the system is.” – Niagara resident and Indigenous journalist Karl Dockstader, as quoted in a September 11th opinion piece in The Toronto Star
A Brief One from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted September 12th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
The arrest and charges laid by Ontario provincial Police this past September 2nd against well-known and respected Niagara activist and award-winning Indigenous journalist Karl Dockstader continue to draw concern and outrage among members of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike, and is also continuing to draw attention from big media outlets.
OPP officers arrested and charged Dockstader while he was covering land defence actions by Indigenous peoples on traditional lands against developers pushing to construct a housing project in the Caledonia area of neighbourhing Haldimand County.
How interesting that police always seem to be there when it is ordinary citizens fighting to protect lands against corporations moving in to vandalize them with asphalt and concrete, or tar sand pipes and the like. And it it almost always the ordinary citizens who get arrested and charged.
Here is an excerpt from a recent Opinion piece by Shree Paradkar, the Race & Gender columnist for The Toronto Star, pposted in that widely-circulated newspaper on September 11th –
“(Karl) Dockstader, an award-winning journalist himself, was arrested Sept. 2 and charged with mischief and failure to comply with a court order. He doesn’t know which court order this was — the charge sheet doesn’t say. The arrest bans him from the site under threat of more charges.
Dockstader told the Star he had met two officers on the site, given them his card and identified himself as a journalist.
had filed a report with the radio a day before his arrest, had taken video chronicling the events and live-tweeted them. This is standard journalism.
Dockstader was also immersed in the culture, singing, water drumming and writing about it. “I was open about the fact that I was playing lacrosse with people. I have a responsibility not to extract a story. For me, it was important to go there and give narrative sovereignty to the people that are there. To give them an opportunity to tell their story in their words.”
In any case, it’s not for the police to decide what constitutes journalism. What their action did was further blanket a situation already unfolding outside the gaze of major media.
“It’s hard to separate my arrest with the criminalization of Indigenous people generally,” Dockstader said. “I’ve worked in court for several years. I’ve seen first hand how racist the system is.”
To read the full opinion piece, click on Toronto Star’s online news site at – https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2020/09/11/arrests-at-six-nations-land-back-lane-protests-against-a-caledonia-housing-development-show-the-ugly-face-of-colonial-violence.html
For a recent CBC report on Karl Dockstader’s arrest, click on – https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/karl-dockstader-opp-charges-caledonia-1.5713169
For a recent story in Canada’s Globe and Mail, click on –https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-journalist-and-researcher-vow-to-fight-charges-related-to-ontario-land-2/
A Few Final Words from Doug Draper at NAL –
Niagara At Large will continue following this story.
In the meantime, we would only add that it has now been about nine months now since Niagara Regional Councillors called on the Ontario Provincial Police to launch a criminal probe into the circumstances surrounding the 2016 hiring of now former Niagara Region CAO Carmen D’Angelo – an episode that cost the taxpayers of Niagara all kinds of money and grief, and that resulted in a scathing report, titled “Inside Job”, released last December by Ontario’s Ombudsman.
When are we going to see some results from the OPP on that one?
And when is Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has a penchant for circulating warm and fuzzy statements about reconciliation with the country’s Indigenous peoples, and about civil liberties and freedom of the press and the like, going to possibly have something meaningful to say about the Karl Dockstader incident?
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