Things have rapidly turned nasty at the protest in Caledonia where a group of natives are staging a sit-in at a subdivision construction site.
A week ago, there was a relatively constructive and mutually respecting attitude between the protesters -- many of them women and children -- and the Ontario Provincial Police who, sooner or later, were likely to be ordered to remove them. Both "sides" were showing restraint.
The overarching objective of the protest seemed to be heard - to force a dialogue with Ottawa over land claims that move, if at all, at a snail's pace. But that constructive attitude has changed to belligerence, antagonism and a heightened hostility that seem just a heartbeat, or a momentary flash of temper, away from violence.
Consider Sheriff John Dawson, who was legally required to read a court order to the protesters. He was spat on, insulted in the foulest language, shouted down and drowned out.
The atmosphere at the protest site seems to be one of spoiling for a fight and anyone who remembers the toll of land-claim protests at Oka, Que., and Ipperwash, Ont., should be worried about that.
Caledonia is not Oka or Ipperwash. At press time, this was still a peaceful protest, with neither side forcing a confrontation.