Stacey Boots arrested and charged before minutes before CBSA building takeover

by Steve da Silva

“This is Harriet Boots, and I’m looking for my son,” Stacey’s mother told the OPP detachment at Long Sault on the afternoon of March 22, just a couple hours after the Mohawk Akwesasne police had executed the warrant on behalf of the OPP.

Only minutes before the planned takeover of the empty Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) building at Akwesasne, Stacey Boots was arrested for his participation in the Tyendinega rail blockade on International Women’s Day earlier in the month. That blockade capped more than a week of actions that aimed to pressure the Federal government to launch a full inquiry into missing and murdered Onkwehon:we women. “The Awkwesasne Mohawk Police department came to the People’s Fire building just before 12 pm and arrested me,” Stacey Boots told TRT in an interview earlier this week.

Nate Prier, who arrived with a carload of supporters from Local 3903 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and its First Nations Solidarity Working Group, told TRT that, “”We had lost phone contact with Stacey for about an hour, after being in contact with him for the whole morning. We were worried this might have happened.” Prier added, “This clearly looks like an arrest targeted at land defenders demonstrating for action on missing and murdered women, and reclaiming land illegally occupied by the Canadian government.”

Harriet Boots, Stacey’s mother, told TRT at the People’s Fire building after the arrest that “He was only there [in Tyendinega] for a few minutes.” But that hasn’t led Stacey to downplay his support for Tyendinega’s action, for which he’s been charged with mischief. “I was in support of Tyendinega’s action, and they apparently put out an arrest warrant for me. I do support Shawn [Brant] and the men and women of Tyendinega for their actions to bring about an inquiry for the missing and murdered women in Canada. I supported them and I continue to support them, and that’s what the warrant was for.”

Stacey had learned about the outstanding warrant prior to his arrest, but chose not to turn himself in, since to do so would be to recognize the jurisdiction of the OPP. “This is sovereign land, and they [the Mohawk Akwesasne police department] committed treason by executing that warrant.”

Harriet and John Boots, Stacey’s parents, were among the few who ended up showing up to the People’s Fire building, which is an independent community center and meeting space that sits just across from the CBSA building and is being threatened with demolition.

The Saturday was sadly marked by two completely unrelated deaths in the community that may have changed the dynamic of the action, and which Stacey Boots acknowledged led him to “not want to continue. It was going to be a difficult day. But I was going to take it over, make it a quiet day, and be on our way. But this policy of the bridge authority scared everybody. We weren’t intending to block any roads, and traffic was going to move freely. So our community members could have went to the funerals.”

“Band Council was saying over the radio that the bridge authority has a policy that if there was any protesting, peaceful protesting, or any disturbance of traffic that they were going to shut the bridges down. By saying that over the radio, that scared a lot of people, that they were going to miss their appointments, that this was going to disrupt their movements back and forth. None of my intentions were to block the roads. I was exercising my sovereign right to takeover a building that was abandoned five years ago. By this warrant, they sidestepped the issue and forcefully took me away from my community,” Stacey told TRT.

Asked what his next steps were, Stacey said “At this point, I have conditions. I’m trying to figure out what my next step is. I am going to continue on and make plans to find out exactly owns that land.” The land in question that the CBSA building sits on was acquired from Stacey’s great-grandfather Paul Caldwell in the late 1950s.

Stacey Boots informed TRT he had a letter indicating that the Mohawk Council of Awkesasne was planning to remove the People’s Fire building before the end of the year. So the struggle over the customs house and the People’s Fire building across from it is far from over.

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  1. This is why you dont announce Actions’ over Facebook!!!!!! Word-of-Mouth or Smoke-Signals should suffice. . !..

    1. I would much prefer smoke signals only. Much like the Germans and Japanese during WW II who were in utter confusion trying to figure out the “gibberish” they heard over the airwaves when the Code-talkers went to work.

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