The following is written by Donna Durlik and Lynda Powless, and first appeared in Turtle Island News on January 24th, 2007. It is one of several documents from the February 2007 report The Criminalization of the Six Nations Land Reclamation.
When a handful of women walked onto a housing development on the outskirts of Caledonia almost a year ago, Jeff “Hawk” was there.
Through the sub-zero temperatures and winter blizzards of 2006, the “hawk”, as he became known, was there.
When the spring rolled around, he was still there. A mainstay and almost a household name.
Jeff “Hawk” stood firm in his belief that Kanohnstaton is Six Nations lands.
“I asked my Clan mother, should I leave. Should I leave the site and forget about our land,” he says and that slow smile and twinkle in his eye that all his friends know, comes to the surface. “No way, she told me,” he says and laughs.
But he quickly turns serious. “I think now, if I hadn’t stayed there then, right up to April 20th when the OPP raided, if I hadn’t stayed with the women then, maybe, just maybe we wouldn’t be there where we are today with our chiefs at the negotiating table,” he says.
Jeff Hawk, a household name during the early months of the Six Nations Land Reclamation, has lost count of how many court appearances he has made since he was arrested during the OPP pre-dawn raids on April 20. […]
He’s the man who came out to the site the very first day when a small group of people including Dawn Smith and Janie Jameson walked onto the land in order to stop construction of the Douglas Creek Estates housing development on Feb.28th, 2006 saying the land was stolen from Six Nations illegally.
He’s the man who swore that the police would have to drag his body off the site in order to remove him (which they eventually did). He’s the man who bore freezing temperatures, knee-high snow and wind chills of -20C and below when there was nothing but tents to shelter them in order to fulfill his duty to protect the women and children of Kanohnstaton.
And now, the 28 year old father is going broke defending himself against charges of assault with a weapon, intimidation and causing a disturbance, charges that all stemmed from Kanohnstaton.
Hawk had been sleeping at the site the morning the OPP snuck onto a sleeping camp of protesters under the cover of darkness and arrested 16 people. He was one of only a handful of people that escaped being caught, but a few hours later, after hundreds of Six Nations people reclaimed the site from the OPP, Hawk’s luck ran out on him.
It was around 8 am when he says he noticed a young group of OPP officers heading toward the site entrance to the site off of Thistlemoor St., known as “O-Town” to people at the site.
“They were going around the back entrance and I wanted to see what the hell was going on.”
As he was running through the Canadian Tire parking lot, he says a non-native man came out of the store and started screaming at him.
“He was freaking out. He said, ‘why don’t you go back to where you f***ing came from. This is our town.’ I asked the police to remove him, but instead they attacked me.”
He says eight OPP officers shot him with a Taser and tackled him to the ground.
“As I was on the ground, they shot me again with the Taser saying I was resisting arrest. I was physically and verbally assaulted. They called me a gutless bastard and said I only did what I did because I had an audience. I’m dead serious,” he says. “I couldn’t believe it.”
He claims one officer shockingly thanked him for making it possible for the OPP office to use a Taser for the first time.
Hawk ended up suffering two fractured ribs, countless bruises and pinched nerves on his wrists from the handcuffs and Taser cuts to his back.
Police took him to the Cayuga detachment, where he was left waiting in a cruiser with the windows rolled up for at least three hours while they tried to process him. He said there was no room in the holding cells for him because they were full of other site supporters who had been arrested.
That morning was unusually hot at about 25C and Hawk says that he became dehydrated while waiting in the cruiser.
“The windows were all steamed up from my sweat,” he says.
Police finally processed him at noon, and he spent the night in custody. He phoned his wife, who he says was quite upset about the whole affair.
The next day, at 1 p.m., he received bail at the Ontario Superior Court in Cayuga with his aunt acting as his surety. It wasn’t until after that that he was able to go to the hospital for medical treatment. Doctors gave him painkillers, told him that the fractured ribs would heal on their own, and advised him to get further treatment for the pinched nerves.
He didn’t go back to the site.
“It had nothing to do with what the court said,” says Hawk, referring to one of his bail conditions that he not attend the site anymore. “My aunt strongly suggested I not go back and I didn’t. She had fear of me getting hurt far worse.”
Since then, he’s had numerous appearances in court, represented by Six Nations lawyer Debra Loft, but his case has gone nowhere.
“It’s still in the same state as day one. It’s been nothing but remand after remand. It’s doing nothing but costing me time and money.”[…]
After the arrest, Hawk returned to his home in Caledonia to try and live a normal life. But the townspeople found out where he lived and began harassing him, he says.
His house was also under 24 hour surveillance by police, he says an OPP liaison officer told him.
He decided to leave the rented home after an incident in August in which Janie Jameson had gone to visit him in the early evening. Both of their kids were playing in the front yard when Jamieson said she heard one of them scream because an OPP officer was allegedly trying to climb Hawk’s fence. Three more OPP cruisers then drove by, and aboriginal OPP officer was contacted, and then a group of young men from the site rushed down argyle street toward hawk’s house on ATVs but then returned to the site shortly without incident.
Not long after, a group of Caledonia residents gathered on the sidewalk in front of his house shouting racial slurs and threatening to burn the house down, “with or without his family inside”, he claims.
“That’s when I said enough is enough. They found out where I lived. They said they didn’t want ‘troublemakers’ in their town. I left that night.”
He’s currently staying with his parents on Six Nations and his common-law wife and their five-year-old daughter are staying with the parents until they can find a place big enough to accommodate the young family.
He appeared in court last Wednesday for a resolution discussion between his lawyer and the crown to see if they can resolve the matter without a trial. However, the lawyers have yet to meet after canceling on each other twice, and the case was put over until Jan. 31st.
He said he’s dreading the thought of him going to jail and says that the charges against him are unjust.
“I hear that the crown’s asking for a year. I’m like a bag of nerved every day I come to court. I hope to beat the charges. I don’t care how much it costs.”