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OPP's Deane resigns-Seven years, no inquest


Paul Barnsley, Windspeaker Staff Writer, Toronto







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On the day Ontario Provincial Police Acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane was scheduled to appear before the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services (Sept. 23), he announced his resignation from the police service.

He had been ordered by an OPP adjudicator to quit his job or be fired after being convicted of criminal negligence in the death of Dudley George.

Pierre George, Dudley's brother, was in Toronto to attend the commission hearings. He said a sign was posted on the hearing room door announcing that Deane's appeal had been withdrawn. Hours later, news reports began to circulate. They were short on information, but all said Deane had resigned from the OPP.

All of this occurred as the George family begins the eighth year of its wait for a public inquiry into the shooting.

While activists marked the seventh anniversary of the death of Dudley George at the hand of Deane on Sept. 6, Pierre George stayed home.

He told Windspeaker he wanted to mark the anniversary quietly. He also asked that we relay his thanks to all the people-Native and non-Native-who have adopted the call for justice for his late brother.

Pierre George has not participated in his family's multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against former Premier Mike Harris and other government and police officials. He believes it is the wrong approach. He has been working to persuade Ontario government officials to look into the events of that night, appealing to their sense of justice. George is still waiting to see if the province's chief coroner will call a coroner's inquest into the death. He believes that inquest would reveal information that would force the government to call a full-scale public inquiry.

Sam George, another brother of Dudley who has been the family's main spokesman regarding the lawsuit, spoke at a vigil at Queen's Park-the Ontario legislature-on the evening of Sept. 6.

Church and labor groups have joined First Nations people in pressuring the government for a full accounting. Even journalists have joined the battle.

Toronto Star reporter Harold Levy wrote a 30-minute radio play that depicts the events of that fateful night in 1995. He contacted this publication to tell us where to find it.

"My present goal is to let as many people in Canada and the U.S. and elsewhere know that the play exists and that it can be found on the Web," he said. "Especially since we are approaching the seventh anniversary of Dudley George's death and neither the Ontario or federal government have ordered an independent inquiry. Nor is there any sign that they intend to call one." It was written by Levy, directed by Alanis King and produced by Sherry Shute.

(The play entitled "Death at Ipperwash" can no longer be found at the web address provided.)

Levy and his partner Peter Edwards, author of One Dead Indian have been reporting the Ipperwash story from the beginning when, they remind people, it was depicted by the OPP as an attack on police by armed Natives. It was later demonstrated in court that the Native people were unarmed.

While many Native people have welcomed the reporters' work as an important part of the drive to force the Ontario government to confront the unanswered questions about Ipperwash, Pierre George feels they are making money off his brother's death.

Levy denied that his radio play was an attempt to profit from the tragedy.

"No one made a cent from Death at Ipperwash. In terms of myself, I must have spent at least a couple of hundred hours working on the play. I paid all of the costs-including producing 400 copies of the CD-out of my own pocket," he said. "It was one thing to advance the news story, as Peter Edwards and I have been trying to do for years, but another to tell the story in a way that people could connect with their hearts. None of us took a cent. None of us wanted a cent. We all felt a higher purpose, and I expect you will find that purpose reflected i Death at Ipperwash."

Even as the anniversary approached, more news surfaced that suggests a cover-up in the case. In an article that appeared in the Toronto Star on Sept. 5, Edwards and Levy reported that documents filed in court revealed a "senior OPP officer ordered the destruction of records of a telephone conversation from the police operation at Ipperwash Provincial Park the night Native activist Anthony (Dudley) George was shot to death."

The allegation was made in an anonymous letter filed in court the day before by George family lawyer Murray Klippenstein. The family believes the letter was written by an OPP officer who was at the park in 1995.