Ovide Mercredi is responsible for the death of a Chippewa man killed by police, according to an angry group of Native protesters who vandalized the Assembly of First Nations office in Ottawa.

“We can’t blame (Ontario Premier Mike) Harris or (Indian Affairs Minister Ron) Irwin,” said Shawn Brant, a Mohawk who led the protest.

“Indian blood has been spilt and it is on Mercredi’s hands.” Mercredi, National Chief of the AFN, had denounced a Chippewa occupation of disputed land in southern Ontario. At a press conference on Parliament Hill, Mercredi claimed that the occupation includes outsiders and does not have the support of local First Nations people.

Soon after Mercredi’s statements, a police SWAT team moved in and shot two Natives. One man was killed and a 15-year-old was reportedly shot in the back (see News, page 5).

The protesters blamed Mercredi for the shootings, saying he had effectively given police a green light to mount a raid.