Hamilton musician Tom Wilson says he was arrested by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) on Wednesday after visiting the McKenzie Meadows site in Caledonia, Ont., to deliver food and perform for families.
The Junkhouse and Lee Harvey Osmond frontman was featured on a Twitter live stream for the Indigenous show One Dish, One Mic and said his arrest was “interesting” and a first after “61 years of being free … from any problems with the law.”
“Today, the OPP showed up and served me papers.”
Wilson says his arrest was tied to a visit to a disputed construction site in Caledonia that has been occupied for months by a group from Six Nations that identifies itself as “land defenders.”
The site has been dubbed “1492 Land Back Lane” and its occupants say it’s on Haudenosaunee territory that was never legally signed away to the Crown.
For weeks now, the OPP has been making arrests in connection with the occupation based on two court injunctions granted to Foxgate Developments that are currently in effect and prohibit anyone from being on the property.
“I went with a few other musicians to perform for the families that were there. So I guess that in Canada that’s illegal now. So that’s how my day kind of started,” Wilson said on the live stream.
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Wilson went on to say that politicians have to put reconciliation “in play” in regards to Indigenous communities and local governments like Haldimand County should stop describing people defending their land as “terrorists.”
Also arrested on Wednesday was Tahnee Williams, wife of Skyler Williams, spokesperson for the “land defenders.”
In a social media post, the 1492 Land Back Lane occupiers said Tahnee Williams was arrested for mischief and disobeying a court order.
So far, the OPP have arrested over 30 people connected with the occupation since early August, including Skyler Williams, who is still wanted on outstanding charges.
Hours after the arrests on Wednesday, Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt posted on social media a letter sent by municipal councillors to the attorney general asking for the Crown to be more “mindful” of releases following bail hearings.
Hewitt claims the occupation has “negatively impacted” the reputation of the county and called recent releases of accused McKenzie Meadows occupiers a “catch and release” process that allows individuals to re-offend.
“Some appear to have been re-arrested for failing to comply with the original release order and released again,” the letter said.
“Once released, many have immediately returned to the occupation site and resumed their criminal activity,” the mayor said.
Last week a Superior Court judge extended two injunctions connected with the development.
Justice John Harper said both the injunction at the McKenzie Road site and another injunction prohibiting roadblocks in Haldimand County will remain in place until the next court date on Oct. 22.