NAPANEE, Ont. -  A militant activist who led aboriginal protests that snarled traffic on Canada's busiest highway and blocked a major rail line was denied bail Thursday after turning himself in to Ontario Provincial Police.

While he sympathized with Shawn Brant's desire to improve conditions on native reserves and resolve long-standing land-claim disputes, Justice D.K. Kirkland of the Ontario Court of Justice said it would be "dangerous'' to allow his release.

"We need people to protest. We need Shawn Brants to protest,'' Kirkland said before announcing his decision.

But taking the law into your own hands will only lead to an escalation of violence that resolves nothing, Kirkland said. The fatal shooting of native protester Dudley George in 1995 by provincial police trying to force demonstrators from Ipperwash Provincial Park was one case where a protest ended in tragedy, he added.

"One is too many. We don't want any more,'' Kirkland, who said he's known Brant since he was a teenager, told the courtroom filled with more than a dozen supporters and several police officers.

Brant, 43, had been granted bail twice before in recent months, but breached conditions of his release when he took part in last week's protest that blocked a main CN artery in eastern Ontario and delayed road traffic, causing thousands to alter their travel plans.

His lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, plans to appeal the judge's decision, but said outside court it was unclear how long Brant may stay in jail until the requested review is complete.

"In my view, (Kirkland) was saying that he should be punished for the breach, basically, and that's why he's keeping him in jail,'' Rosenthal said.

"And he asked himself the wrong question, in my opinion. The question should have been, is he likely to reoffend if released? And in my view, the evidence presented made it very unlikely.''

Brant's mother Deanna, a retired teacher who worked at an elementary school on the nearby reserve, offered to act as his surety, testifying that she would be willing to forfeit up to $50,000 if her son didn't abide by the conditions of his release.

But the militant Mohawk protester's frank admissions seemed to be his undoing in court.

"You had no intention of ever complying (with the May 3 bail conditions), did you?'' prosecutor Robert Morrison asked the handcuffed and shackled Brant.

"Actually, no,'' Brant replied.

Morrison also confronted Brant with his statement to The Canadian Press last week before the militant group set up the blockades for the day of action, suggesting that there would be "longer'' and "harder'' actions to come in the future.

"Sir, I'd not only say it then, I'd say it now,'' Brant said.

Earlier in the day, he appeared calm as he arrived at the provincial police station in Napanee in a small convoy with his fatigue-clad supporters and lawyer.

"I am handing myself in,'' he told reporters who had gathered outside for the scheduled surrender.

"It's tough on people. It's hard on the family, it's hard on the kids.''

Accompanied by Rosenthal, Brant was arrested at the doors on a warrant stemming from a blockade of Highway 2 near Deseronto last week during the aboriginal day of action.

He has been charged with mischief and breach of his bail conditions. Brant had been out on bail on previous charges related to a 30-hour blockade of the CN rail line near Deseronto in April. One of the conditions of his being granted bail was that he not participate or encourage any type of unlawful protest that could disrupt road, rail or waterway traffic.

However, his supporters, who have staged a number of demonstrations, blocked the rail line again last Friday.

Brant has served jail time before for trashing the offices of politicians.

He is also facing a second lawsuit by CN stemming from his group's most recent blockade of the rail line, Rosenthal said.

Brant said 19-year-old Dustin Brant will take over as the speaker for the group, but that no imminent demonstrations are planned.

The group will continue to occupy a quarry on disputed land near Deseronto, west of Kingston, an occupation which began in March, Dustin Brant said outside court.

Before entering the station, Shawn Brant embraced his wife and shook hands with a number of supporters.

He said he hopes his actions thus far will be a catalyst for change.

"We came out clearly that we wanted a new direction on First Nation issues and the crises facing our kids, and we can only hope that our actions cause that to happen,'' he said.

A charge of mischief carries a range of sentence between two and 10 years under the Criminal Code.

Brant was originally scheduled to be in a Toronto court Friday for the second CN lawsuit, but his lawyer is expected to appear instead.