AKWESASNE/ST REGIS — Two raids in one month on a collectively owned cannabis dispensary on Akwesasne led members in support of the dispensary to clash with Mohawk police.
On Friday, early reports said the second raid of the Wild Flower Cannabis Dispensary led to the arrest and detainment of dispensary operators.
According to local reporting the dispensary is collectively owned by members of the Indian Way Longhouse who say they do not recognize Akwesasne’s elected leadership.
A standoff ensued following the arrests outside the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Services headquarters in St. Regis. Details on the nature of the charges and who was arrested were not made public.
Community members posted to Facebook a public call out for Mohawk people to come to police headquarters and demand the release of those arrested, calling them political prisoners.
According to a statement from the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, officers were confronted by community members and a clash erupted at around 2:00 a.m. outside their offices resulting in two officers being injured and requiring medical attention.
The statement does not indicate if any of the protesters were injured. Facebook videos of the clash showed a woman, allegedly being pushed by a police cruiser down an icy street. Community members also alleged on social media that protesters were sprayed with pepper spray.
These clashes eventually erupted into violence between protesters and police. While it is not clear who initiated the violence, the Cornwall Standard reported fistfights between police and residents eventually ended in some of the protesters being pepper sprayed.
One protester was reported to be armed with an aluminum baseball bat. A Mohawk Police SUV was stolen, the windows smashed out and the vehicle set on fire.
These clashes follow jurisdictional tensions between the elected council and longhouse communities who have been at odds.
Police said in a statement that they received “an overwhelming amount of emails, messages and phone calls from community members thinking the police and commenting their efforts in addition to donations of food and coffee for the officers”.
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council issued a joint public statement on the incident and said, “Akwesasne has faced many challenges as part of an ongoing effort to ensure that the health and safety of the community remains a priority. At this time, we respectfully acknowledge the differing perspectives on this matter and encourage continued peaceful dialogue. Throughout this process, we continue to seek the assistance of all Akwesasneronon in promoting peace, harmony, and the working relationships we’ve proudly achieved in recent years.”