1492 Land Back Lane spokesperson Skyler Williams arrested in Toronto

Skyler Williams was arrested in Toronto on Sept. 16, 2021. He was speaking at a demonstration against an encampment clearing in July. @ESN_TO

The spokesperson for a group of Six Nations land defenders who occupied a construction site in Caledonia last year has been arrested in Toronto.

Skyler Williams – who was in the city speaking at a demonstration – was one of three people taken into custody on Thursday in connection with a protest that erupted in late July when Toronto police and city staff cleared a homeless encampment at a local stadium.

Members of 1492 Land Back Lane revealed Williams’ arrest in a series of social media posts to their account just after 11:30 a.m. Sept. 16.

In a release, police said the 38-year-old Brantford resident was charged with failure to comply with recognizance while another man and woman were arrested for assault with a weapon and weapons offences.

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Investigators said eight others, four men and two women, are wanted on a number of offences including assault and obstruction. Police have released images of those wanted. Only one suspect was named, 32-year-old Toronto resident Samuel Nithiananthan, who is wanted for unlawful assembly, assault with a weapon, weapons dangerous and common nuisance, police said.

Twenty-six people were arrested during the chaos in Toronto on July 21 when city staff, supported by police, cleared out the encampment at Lamport Stadium – located in the area of Dufferin and King streets.

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Enforce trespass notices were issued to occupants in the facility in June.

Protesters with signs in support of the encampment residents formed a barricade around the park using pallets. Some signs read “safer here” and “we need to take care of each other.”

After clearing the encampment, large crowds gathered outside of a police division eventually becoming hostile, with multiple people throwing objects, including soup cans, according to Toronto police.

Officials in Toronto say the encampments were the result of hundreds fleeing the city’s homeless shelters for fear of contracting COVID-19.

The city maintains the shelter system is safe, and council passed a motion to end encampments.

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In July 2020 Williams and a group calling themselves “land defenders” moved onto a residential development in Caledonia stating they were protecting unceded Haudenosaunee territory.

A year later, the developer of the McKenzie Meadows subdivision, Foxgate, cancelled the project citing the never-ending occupation as the reason.

During the ordeal, Williams was one of many who faced multiple charges including mischief and disobeying a court order.

– With files from Jessica Patton and the Canadian Press

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