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Brantford police raid sovereign Indigenous cannabis shop on Mohawk lands

Published by Real People’s Media, Sept 14th, 2023

BRANTFORD – A sovereign Indigenous cannabis store operating in downtown Brantford, Ontario was robbed on Tuesday Sept 12th by the Brantford Police department. Sovern 4/20, which opened the day before the raid occurred, is located at 14 Dalhousie Street on lands deeded by the Crown to the “Mohawks and such others of the Six Nations” by the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784.

According to Sovern 4/20 spokesperson Pete Hess, a citizen of the Mohawk nation, Sergeant Giovanni Billone (Badge #258) entered the store on Tuesday morning without a warrant. The Sergeant, asked the attendant “do you have a license for this?” When the attendant replied, “No I don’t need one, I’m a North American Indian operating on Native land”, Sergeant Billone stated “Yes you do [need a license]. As of right now everything’s in plain view, so it’s all mine.” The Sergeant then called for assistance. Two other officers arrived and they gathered and removed the cannabis products in the store. The officers also removed all of the store’s cameras and the hard drive to which the recordings were saved. Hess added that the Sergeant “told the attendant to “stick to Six Nations” – implying that he should stay on the reserve. 

Caption: A view inside the Sovern 4/20 shop in Brantford.

Hess said that Sergeant Billone complimented the attendant on the look of the dispensary, saying “I’ve got to be honest with you, this is the cleanest, nicest dispensary I’ve ever been in,” but also kept saying “You’re taking away commerce from government dispensaries, how is it fair to them?” Real People’s Media attempted to contact Sergeant Billone for comment, but the Brantford police department did not respond.

Hess was surprised about the police response, because the store had invited Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis to cut the ribbon at the store’s grand opening. In response to the store’s invitation, Michelle Ruby, the administrative assistant to the Mayor, wrote back and said, “Thank you for extending an invitation to Mayor Kevin Davis to attend the grand opening of Sovereign cannabis dispensary. The mayor would like to attend. Please send us details of the date and time when you have them scheduled.”

Hess says the store is not deterred by the raid, and that the shop will soon reopen. “This is a movement for everybody – and we need to come together and fight for our rights.” 

Hess reports that Sovern 4/20 has received a great deal of encouragement from Six Nations people and Brantford residents and states that there will be a support rally for Indigenous economic rights at 10am on Friday, September 14th, at Sovern 4/20 at 14 Dalhousie Street. The store is planning to reopen soon, a date for the grand opening will be released shortly. 

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