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Tentative deal struck to end standoff at Mohawk reserve

CP   2004-01-14 03:49:33  

KANESATAKE, QUE. -- A tentative deal was reached late yesterday to resolve a tense standoff at a Mohawk reserve that saw the band chief's house burned, police officers barricaded in their station and roads blocked. Public Security Minister Jacques Chagnon said an accord had been reached with the Kanesatake police commission where 60 officers brought in to the community from reserves across the province by Grand Chief James Gabriel would be asked to withdraw.

Chagnon, speaking at a news conference in nearby Laval, Que., said an interim police chief would also be appointed.

The deal came after several hours of negotiation and was to be taken to the reserve by members of the Kanesatake police commission.

Earlier, a defiant Gabriel, whose house was torched by protesters on the Kanesatake Mohawk reserve, said he won't step down and will press forward with a crime-fighting initiative that caused a standoff in his community.

Gabriel was targeted by protesters who objected to his decision to hire a new police chief and bring in aboriginal officers from outside to crack down on crime and marijuana growing operations.

About 60 of the officers were prevented from leaving police headquarters and going to work by protesters. They also were deprived of food since Monday night.

Protesters said Gabriel is no longer their leader and also shouldn't have replaced the former police chief. But Gabriel was unrepentant.

"I do not wish for any other community member go through what my family had to go through last night in regards to being attacked and being burned out," he told a news conference in Montreal.

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