The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) spent $16.3 million in just half a year policing the Haudenosaunee-led occupation of the McKenzie Meadows housing development in Caledonia, Ont., according to provincial government records obtained by APTN News through freedom of information.
The figures reveal the OPP were spending between $2 million and $3 million per month on salaries, round-the-clock overtime, food, hotels, travel costs, supplies, equipment, building rentals and other related expenses between July 2020 and January 2021.
“I’m absolutely flabbergasted by this number,” said Skyler Williams, spokesperson for the occupation, in a phone interview. “That’s painful to think that we’re spending that on 20 people sitting in a field singing songs around the fire.”
Six Nations members and supporters moved onto the construction site — about 20 km south of Hamilton — on July 19, 2020 and dubbed it 1492 Land Back Lane. A few weeks later, a police crowd-control unit raided the encampment and made arrests using stun guns and rubber bullets.
Supporters of the group promptly retaliated by lighting tires on fire and erecting blockades on roads and train tracks. About 50 people soon overwhelmed police at the camp’s back entrance and retook the site later that evening, according to an OPP court filing.
The group reached a consensus to dismantle the barricades at the end of August. A court battle over injunctions ensued while police continued making arrests.