Oneida residents set up checkpoints amid threats of violence
Published Sunday, October 13, 2019 3:38PM EDT
For the third straight day, checkpoints are up at all entrances to Oneida First Nation of the Thames.
Amid racial tensions at Saunders Secondary School, and online social media threats, members of the indigenous community say they are "protecting their own people".
One by one, vehicles entering the settlement approach a checkpoint. Peacekeepers lean into the drivers’ side window and advise people to obey speed limits and be peaceful.
"What we are doing is asking you to take consideration of our rules and regulations, and conduct your business peacefully and have a good day," says the "peacekeeper" at the corner of Bodkin Road and Littlewood Drive.
The checkpoints come a couple weeks after racing tensions escalated to fist fights at Saunders. Also this week there were reports of online rumours that people of Arab descent were coming to the settlement to inflict harm.
Earlier this week, Chief Jessica Hill spoke to CTV News about the unverified threat.
"The police in our community are vigilant and we've heard of potential people coming to our community to find the children,' says Chief Hill. "I'm not too sure what those individuals plan to do, but if it came to our community we would deal with it".
A letter was sent to Oneida residents Friday telling them that students would be picked up early by bus and protected at Saunders. It also stated that Oneida Police would be on duty all weekend patrolling with re-enforcement from OPP.
They do state that while the rumours haven't been substantiated, they are taking precaution.
The London mosque says they are sympathetic to what is happening.
"Our community has been there before where we've had to increase security for threats and alleged threats," says spokesperson Nawaz Tahir.
Tahir adds there is a lot of similarities between the middle eastern and first nation communities, and there is no traditional tensions between the two groups. He says it's been broken between a bunch of kids..
"As community leaders, we'd like to get to the route of what caused this between the students".
Back on Littlewood Drive, some members of the Oneida First Nation who wished not to be identified said they don't agree with the checkpoint They event used the term "racial profiling" when seeing cars being turned away. The peacekeepers explain how they determine who gets through...
"if you show aggression, and don't consent to our rules and regulations, you have no business being here".
Community members will continue taking turns on shifts throughout the rest of the holiday weekend.