Undercover police stir the violence pot at Red Hill and their bosses get promoted.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003. As police move in to remove valley protectors at Red Hill Valley “Protester Ted” is making “oinking” noises and loudly calling police “fucking pigs.” His aggressive behaviour is out of synch with the nonviolent groove that has seen the demonstrators weather the months long valley occupation with power and grace.
“Ted” is “arrested” by police with two others, and after disappearing for about 20 minutes, Ted is back at the Mount Albion site with his yellow “trespassing” ticket in hand.
“Ted,” it turns out, is also known as Detective Ted Davis to his comrades with the Hamilton Police where he is Staff Sergeant in charge of Intelligence.
Ted sounds taken aback when I call him on his office phone, “Where did you get all this information from, how would you know to call me?” he wants to know.
(I don’t have the heart to tell the head of intelligence that he was seen recently on the local news station CHTV, being interviewed about undercover police work infiltrating gangs.)
When asked about his undercover role, Ted gets tightlipped and answers “I’m not at liberty to talk about any of that” and refuses to confirm or deny his involvement.
Ted’s not talking but he certainly made a lot of noise at the first day of arrests in the valley.
According to eyewitness accounts “Ted” was “trying to initiate some kind of confrontation” with police.
Six Nations valley protector Donna Powless said she was disappointed by the police behaviour at the Mount Albion site.
“Our people were peaceful, nonviolent, and then we have this person out of the blue come and making these remarks and being very rude and trying to agitate the police there and get things stirred up” she says.
Other witnesses like Alessandra Brown report that while “Ted” was yelling at police, police approached and asked “Ted” who he was.
“Then ‘Ted’ started yelling ‘who the fuck are you, I have a right to be here!’ and stuff like that” reports Brown.
The Hamilton Spectator report of the incident states that three people (two men and a woman) were arrested and notes that police “declined to name those arrested.”
The last time Red Hill defenders saw “Ted” was when he was flashing his badge and helping make arrests during the massive police raid on the Longhouse November 6.
Dana Plourde and a friend (Young Defender under 18-years of age) had “locked-down” in the longhouse when the raid began, and were cut from their equipment by their acquaintance “Ted.”
They say “Ted” had been showing up in the months prior to the arrests, fishing for information and monitoring the longhouse site.
“Santa” Dave Field was one of the people arrested October 28, along with “Ted.” Next time he saw Ted was when the Longhouse camp was surrounded by police November 6. He confronted him at the time about his role as mouthiest of protesters.
“He told me, ‘well yeah, Dave, I was just doing my job,” relates Field.
Superintendent Ken Leendertse was the Divisional Commander in charge of the Red Hill operation. He got a promotion to Deputy Chief and garnered much praise in the Hamilton Spectator for his role in Red Hill.
Spec columnist Susan Clairmont wrote that Superintendent Ken Leendertse “got what he wanted: no violence and few arrests….He won accolades from his colleagues for his measured and professional approach to the volatile situation.” (Spec Tuesday, December 9, 2003).
Isn’t using an undercover plant to initiate violence a little removed from a “measured and professional approach” to a “volatile situation”?
Leendertse won’t say anything about the subject of police infiltrators other than to defend what he says was the overall aim of the operation — to avoid violence — and remind me that the police received praise from the community for their work in the valley.
“As far as discussion of our (police) operations, we can’t do that because it’s not something we even discuss in court; we use different tactics or different operations,” he explains “if we told all the bad guys what we do, we wouldn’t have another tool, would we?”
Using undercover police is one thing, but using undercover police to potentially instigate violence at an otherwise peaceful action is quite another.
I ask Leendertse if he was aware that undercover operations would include the head of intelligence posing as a protester and shouting “fucking pig”at police in the midst of a tense situation.
“I’m not prepared to discuss that, as it’s currently before the courts,” is the measured response.
“Is that behaviour acceptable to you, if it turns out to be the case?” I prod.
After a full eight second pause on the line Leendertse says he won’t “go down that road.”
“The bottom line is we were involved in police operations, we used police tactics in a specific operation and our goal was to insure that no one got hurt.”