Final summations in xo4375 Regina v. Ignace, the Ts'peten (Gustafsen Lake) trial, continued today with Manuel Azevedo, defence counsel for Sundancers and singer, Glen Deneault. After running through the long list of "discrepancies" in the testimony of RCMP witnesses, Azevedo played a video interview with Deneault, taken inside the camp by videographer Will Thomas. Thomas had earlier testified as a prosecution witness.
Taken shortly before the camp was sealed off by police, Deneault discussed the power of the Sundance ceremony, his wishes for his people's future, and the Secwepemc's physical, spiritual, and cultural needs.
"Our point of view is more than 10,000 years old. Before these people came here we lived these ways of ours for thousands of years. Suddenly they show up and tell us we don't belong here on our own lands?"
"They call us terrorists. There's no terror here... we just celebrated life here in our ceremonies. They are the ones who have brought the instruments of war here to this sacred place. We've never left the grounds here - how can we be the threatening terrorists they are making us out to be?"
When videographer Thomas remarked that the situation sounded like the "deep south" the Sundancer shot back with "No, it sounds like deep north."
Azevedo said: "this man is not a terrorist, not a person with a guilty mind. I say this person came to Gustafsen Lake to celebrate his "Indian-ness." He reminded the jury that Crown counsel Lance Bernard had said at the trial's outset that "this was an ordinary trial - well this is anything but an ordinary trial."
"I say the crown hasn't proven anything - nothing about any criminal conspiracy. Could the common unlawful purpose be the attempt to put the petition of Bruce Clark's before the queen? If there was a conspiracy, it was not on the part of the defendants, it was on the part of the RCMP to once again crush Indian resistance as they always have."
"You must remember that the Gustafsen Lake matter went to the very highest authorities, the Attorney General, the Governor General, the Defence Minister, the Prime Minister and the Canadian Privy Council. That's where the conspiracy lies ladies and gentlemen."
Azevedo closed by remembering RCMP media liaison Peter Montague's remarks that the Indians "were making a mockery of private land ownership rights," and had to be stopped.
"You are the closest thing Glen Deneault will get to Queen Anne's independent third party court. The forces of the state were used to make war. Might cannot be right. I ask that you return the correct verdict."
April 29, 1997
Charged: Glen Darwin Deneault with mischief causing actual danger to life and posession of weapons ... dangerous to the public peace.
In opening his address to the jury, Manuel Azevedo, defense lawyer for Glen Deneault told the jury members that they are the buffer between the individual and the tyranny of the state, a citizen's last hope. He reminded them of the two "golden threads" of the justice system, 'presumption of innocence' and the idea of 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' He noted that it would be easy for a jury to presume guilt as soon as they saw the bullet-proof glass which separates the observers gallery from the court itself.
He asked, "What is a crime?". He said that a crime contains both the physical element and the mental element, that the crown must prove both the physical act occurred and that there was intent to commit the act. "What was in Mr. Deneault's mind? You have to judge? ... He did not have a guilty mind. If anyone had a guilty mind, it was the R.C.M.P."
Mr. Azevedo said that the crown will advance a theory of conspiracy with the intent to force the queen to listen to Bruce Clark's petition. He advised the jurors that the evidence supporting this theory was hearsay. He noted that Doc Hill was heard in a tape saying, "Bam, bam, bam," but that Doc Hill, otherwise known as 'Splitting the Sky', did not take the stand.
So just what was going on at Gustafsen Lake, asked Mr. Azevedo? It could have been perceived simply as a landlord - tenant dispute. It could also have been seen as an age old conflict. "But what was going on was a plea for respect. They have been denied this."
Mr. Azevedo discussed a letter, signed by Ernie Archie and by Percy Rosette with an X. It was a letter to the R.C.M.P. to say that they were having a problem with the public and tourists. They had posted signs asking them to keep away, but the tourists ignored the signs and were "scornful." Part of that letter read, "you have never bothered to take our concerns seriously ... We want to return to our culture ... not looking for confrontation." The letter was signed "respectfully" and invited the R.C.M.P. to a meeting.
Another letter to Lyle James said that the indians did not intend to give up their land, that it was needed for ceremonial purposes.
"The native contables had respect for the indians," said Mr. Azevedo. "While they were talking, things were peaceful." But the talking ended when the A.P.C.s arrived. The defense lawyer noted that others have testified that they had no problems with the indians.
Mr. Azevedo remembered the testimony of Ernie Archie, if anyone had doubts about genocide. "You saw that plea for respect," he said. But Mr. Archie had trouble with the english language. He also had trouble with his own Shuswap language making it not possible for the court interpreter to help. "The language was knocked out of him at residential school ... He was at Gustafsen Lake to celebrate life ... but that was not to be."
He discussed the evidence of Serena Bondy, the seven year old girl, daughter of one of the defendants, Rob Flemming, who said that the indians were her friends. She said she was, " 'Scared of the police' ... but she clammed up with the sherrif's deputies looking over her" (as she testified.)
On August 17th, 1995 the emergency response team (E.R.T.) moved in, "heavily armed ... You saw some guns in evidence (belonging to the indians) but where were the hundreds of rifles of the R.C.M.P.? ... They were heavily armed ... with side arms and sniper rifles ... They represented force over talk."
On August 18th, according to Mr. Azevedo, shots were fired. "Institutionalised racism took over ... Charlie Andrews (a native constable) was in the camp every day. He and Bob Wood (another native constable) took off to see what was going on. He (Charlie Andrews) was yanked back, and he testified that he was hurt (emotionally)." Constable Finley, also a native constable, is facing an internal investigation, "Because of comments he made about native land claims to the media."
"Everyone blamed the indians," said the defense lawyer. "But when Percy Rosette phoned the R.C.M.P. on August 18th there was no answer ... to several calls."
When people were prowling through the woods, "They thought it was cowhands coming to hang the red niggers." So they phoned their friends for help. "That is when Glen Deneault went there. Who was breaking the law? Who was endangering whose life?
Mr. Azevedo talked of a news conference where weapons were presented to the news media by the R.C.M.P. and, "They told the media that they were linked to Gustafsen Lake." He said that Supt. Len Olfert testified that in fact the weapons had not been linked to the Gustafsen Lake poeple. "They manipulated the media to mislead the public ... Do these people look like terrorists?"
On August 18, the E.R.T. were "going in. Fortunately the horses were on the indians side, and they were detected."
On August 27, according to the defense lawyer, between fifty and sixty E.R.T. members assembled in Kamloops to plan an invasion the following day. Mr. Azevedo held up a six inch machine gun bullet, "That fire at five per second." He talked of people being armed with fifty calibre sniper rifles, "But no-one knows who ordered these."
Mr. Azevedo went on to tell the jury that after the aborted assault on August 28, all that people in B.C. saw was, "a controversial figure with the bald head and glasses." He said, "Bruce Clark gave you the law." He said that Dr. Clark had taught him a lot that he had never learned in law school. "His position was simple enough ... The rights of indians were protected since 1763 by Royal Proclamation and further when the constitution was repatriated ... He said that they (the indians) had a right to defend their land." "Put yourself in the shoes of Glen Deneault ... The R.C.M.P. cut off communication and tried to seal the area ... but they allowed Bruce Clark in ... He told people he was a lawyer ... And he said, 'You have every right to hang in until Sept 12' ... when there was going to be a hearing before the Supreme Court of Canada ... What would you do?"
Mr. Azevedo said that it was interesting that the ultimate battle was on September 11th, the day before the planned appearence before the supreme court. This was the day the red truck was blown up on the way for water. It was the day that Suniva Bronson became the only person wounded throughout the stand-off, receiving a bullet in the arm. It was the day that Wolverine was chased by an A.P.C. and stood there and shot out the tires. But, "We couldn't get it out of anybody how many bullets were fired that day." The lawyer said that 3,000 bullets had been charged by the military for a C7 gun. "Supt. Olfert agreed that there could have been 10,000 to 20,000 rounds fired ... who knows? ... There was a virtual hail of bullets into the trees ... They couldn't kill themselves an indian ... They tried but the trees stood guard that day."
The defense lawyer said that the R.C.M.P. suggested to Lyle James that he clear cut the area, and Mr. Azevedo suggested that it was only to get rid of the evidence as to how much ammunition had been expended.
"Who was endangering whose lives? Who was possessing weapons dangerous to the public safety?
"This was a small piece of land in 300,000 acres used for grazing 2000 cattle, and yet the claim was that use of the land caused over-grazing ... It doesn't make sense that the practice of indian spirituality intefered at all."
"Can you imagine," said Mr. Aazevedo, "What would have happened if cattle were trampling through your graveyard? ... That's why the fence was up."
Mr. Azevedo then said that he himself could not really do justice to his client, Glen Deneault. He played a ten minute interview with Mr. Deneault.
In the later part of the tape, Mr Deneault said, "I am here because I am a Shuswap man and this is Shuswap territory. I am here to celebrate life."
He said that the people who came to support Percy Rosette came unarmed. he said that when Lyal James came in with his pickup loads of thirteen friends, the camp was mostly seventeen and eighteen year olds. "They haven't seen the change," and become men yet. "We came here with empty hands," meaning unarmed.
In closing, Mr. Azevedo said, "Indians are remembering who they were and who the are. It is amazing that they are still here."
He said that Canada has not been at war with indians in the same manner as the United States has been through its history. "We were more subtle." He talked of the use of residential schools and blankets with disease ridden fleas as Canadian methods.
"If you are without justice, you are not a person."
(copyright by Tim Wees ... you may pass this on unedited)
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