Report from #FreeThemAllCaravan in Kingston

On Sunday, April 19 EPIC and allies took up the call from Solidarity Across Borders for coast-to-coast caravans against imprisonment and for status for all. The tactic of vehicle demonstrations has emerged in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which allows us to be loud and visible without physically gathering and unnecessarily risking virus transmission.

About a dozen vehicles met up at a large parking lot in the centre of Kingston, many of them decorated with signage. From there, we drove to the minimum unit of Collins Bay Penitentiary where prisoners recently forwarded a petition for their release. We proceeded to make a very loud cacophony of car horns, air horns, megaphone sirens and a sound system to show our support for the prisoners inside. It was heartwarming to yell back and forth with a few prisoners milling about outside and through the windows, some of whom thanked us for our support. Most importantly, we were definitely seen and heard by the prisoners inside, which was our main objective.

After about 15 minutes, we proceeded to leave. A majority of the caravan was briefly detained on the way out by correctional security and Kingston Police, who blocked the exit. Drivers had to give ID, license plates and passengers were photographed, and trespassing warnings were given to most drivers. As the minimum unit is fairly deep on the prison grounds, this was not entirely unexpected.

This action was planned on short notice and using a new tactic for us. Vehicle demonstrations are tricky to coordinate and we’re learning how to do better. Our lineup was separated once by traffic lights (a planning error on our part), and twice by guards. Most participants spent time debriefing over videoconference Sunday evening, and discussed driving and communication tactics that could be improved in the future.

Thanks to everyone who participated or supported, know that your sounds were heard by those inside, and we’re not going to let up until we are all free!

-EPIC

#FreeThemAllCaravan
#FreeThemAll
#StatusForAll

Audio recorded for CFRC Prison Radio:

Text of the speech delivered at the prison:

Today, we are here answering the call put out by Solidarity Across Borders and joining in the caravans taking place across the country to add our voices to the growing call for the release of prisoners and detainees, and status for all.

We are also here to add our voices to yours, as we read about your petition for release and the conditions y’all are facing inside, and the knowledge of this is part of what brings us to act. We hear you. Please keep speaking out.

We know that so-called “correctional” institutions and detention centres in Canada are disasters waiting to happen. And while suspending visits and limiting programs further isolates prisoners from community supports, it does nothing to address the risks posed by the crowded conditions, the lack of cleaning and hygiene supplies, or by the staff coming in and out of these places.

We are given hope and inspired by the immigration detainees in Laval who were released after going on hunger strike, who maintain ongoing pressure to release the folks still held there, and also by news that as of Tuesday, Derrick Snow will be the first federal prisoner released due to the COVID crisis after pushing for his release in the courts, on the grounds of the increased risk he is in due to other health problems.

We have already seen outbreaks in prisons across the country, and on April 15 the first COVID-related death in custody happened in Mission, BC. Outbreaks haven’t reached prisons in Kingston yet, but we all know it’s only a matter of time.

We do not want you to die in there. Keep pushing and speaking out, and we will too.

Posted in Actions, CFRC, Collins Bay, Local Prisoners, Petition, Reportback | Leave a comment

Sunday: Join the #StatusForAll / #FreeThemAll Caravan in Kingston

On the afternoon of Sunday April 19th, there will be a caravan in Kingston as part of coast-to-coast actions against imprisonment and for status for all, called for by the Anti-Detention Committee of Solidarity Across Borders in Montreal. Across Canada, people will drive to local prisons or migrant detention centres, honking horns and holding signs while maintaining safe physical distancing. These caravans are intended to show solidarity with those inside, highlight their continued imprisonment and pressure governments to release as many people as possible.

We know that correctional institutions and detention centres in Canada are disasters waiting to happen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. All visits and programs have been suspended at all institutions for over a month now, further isolating prisoners from their community supports. We have already seen outbreaks in prisons across the country, and on April 15th the first COVID-related death in custody occurred at Mission Institution in BC. Outbreaks haven’t reached the prisons in Kingston yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Before the pandemic, sanitary conditions and healthcare in prisons were already woefully inadequate. With resources concentrated in hospitals and the local Public Health authority suggesting prisoners be treated at military bases, it is clear that any outbreaks inside will be serious and deadly. Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair have promised to accelerate parole hearings and releases for some prisoners, but so far we’ve seen lots of talk and little to no action.

There is hope of gaining ground. On Friday, a prisoner with diabetes and pulmonary disease at Bath Institution was released on a temporary absence after taking his case to Federal Court. In provincial jails across Ontario, more than 2000 prisoners have been released as conditions continue to deteriorate inside. Across the continent, prisoners, supporters and abolitionists have been pushing for as many releases as possible, both through social media campaigns and by experimenting with vehicle demonstrations, which have occurred across the United States as well as in Montreal and Hamilton.

If you’d like to join the Kingston Caravan on Sunday, RSVP to epic [at] riseup.net for details.

For more information on the evolving situation inside Canadian institutions, visit https://www.noprisons.ca

#FreeThemAll
#StatusForAll

End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) was founded in 2010 as an abolitonist wing of the “Save Our Prison Farms” movement in Kingston. In the years since, we have campaigned against prison expansion in the Kingston area, engaged in solidarity work with prisoners struggling for better conditions, and published zines and newsletters featuring perspectives from the prisoners movement.

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Teachin’ Against the Big House: Teach-in on Prison Entertainment

Check out this event happening on campus on Thursday at 1pm, organized by the P4W Memorial Collective, OPIRG and SNID!

Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 1pm
John Deutsch University Centre, Queen’s University
Lower Level Atrium

Curious about the Rockin’ The Big House concert on Sept 14? Want to hear alternative views on use of prisons in Kingston? P4W Memorial Collective, SNID, and OPIRG bring to you a teach in on Rockin’ the Big House. Advocates, ex-prisoners, and professors will present and facilitate learning around this event and what it means for the city and beyond. All are welcome! Speakers include professors Justin Piché (University of Ottawa) and Kevin Walby (University of Winnipeg), and formerly-incarcerated activists Richard Atkinson, Ann Hansen, Donny Hogan, and Jimmy Hogan.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/369231640673131/

Posted in Events, Kingston Pen | Leave a comment

New Podcast: “What Happened to Prisoner Justice Day?”

We recommend this excellent new mini-series produced in Montreal called “What Happened to Prisoner Justice Day?” for anyone wanting to learn more about the history and context of the prison movement across so-called Canada since the 1970s. From the description:

This is a mini series about the history of prisons in canada focusing on differences in the prison system in the 1960s-1980s versus today. The podcast features interviews with former and current prisoners, as well as supporters on the outside. For those new to prison history, Prisoner Justice Day, also called PJD, started in 1975 on the one year anniversary of the death of Edward Nalon, an inside organizer who bled to death in a segregation cell in Millhaven Maximum Penitentiary on August 10th, 1974. Prisoners refused to eat and refused to work to commemorate Eddie’s death. In May 1976, Robert Landers, who had been actively organizing in Archambault Pen before being involuntarily transferred to Millhaven, died in a segregation cell in Millhaven after repeated calls for medical help met no response. In June 1976, prisoners in Millhaven launched a call for support for their one day hunger strike in remembrance of all prisoners who had died inside – to take place on August 10th. Word spread across the country and, in the end, thousands of prisoners participated in the one day hunger strike and supporters on the outside organized events on the outside. A lot has changed since the 70s, not just in prison, but outside of prison. While respecting PJD remains important to many on the inside and outside, the numbers of those participating are nowhere near the numbers involved in the 70s and 80s. This podcast mini-series sets out to explore why that change has occurred.

To listen, search for “What Happened to Prisoner Justice Day” in your podcast app or visit https://prisonhistoryca.libsyn.com/

 

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Book Launch! Taking the Rap: Women Doing Time for Society’s Crimes

Taking the Rap: Women Doing Time for Society’s Crimes by Ann Hansen
Book Launch at AKA Autonomous Social Centre – 75 Queen Street
Thursday July 12, 7-9pm
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2045812105680675/

Through the looking glass into the Prison for Women (P4W) from 1984 and into the Canadian women’s prison industrial complex of the new millennium.

“Ann Hansen’s memoir combines a riveting story with a brilliant exposé of the inner workings of the prison industrial complex. Charged with empathy, courage, and an anarchist passion for justice, Taking the Rap is a must-read for scholars, activists, and troublemakers.”
–Allan Antliff, director of the Anarchist Archive, University of Victoria

When Ann Hansen was arrested in 1983 along with the four other members of the radical anarchist group known as the Squamish Five, her long-time commitment to prison abolition suddenly became much more personal. Now, she could see firsthand the brutal effects of imprisonment on real women’s lives.

During more than thirty years in prison and on parole, the bonds and experiences Hansen shared with other imprisoned women only strengthened her resolve to fight the prison industrial complex. In Taking the Rap, she shares gripping stories of women caught in a system that treats them as disposable-poor women, racialized women, and Indigenous women, whose stories are both heartbreaking and enraging. Often serving time for minor offences due to mental health issues, abuse, and poverty, women prisoners are offered up as scapegoats by a society keen to find someone to punish for the problems we all have created.

This event will include readings, discussion and snacks!

Books will be available at a sliding scale of $20-$30. For more information please contact germinations (at) riseup (dot) net.

Please use the ramp entrance on the left of the building. AKA has an accessible entrance and washroom. Please do not wear scented products at AKA.

Posted in Announcements, Local Prisoners | Leave a comment

A Criminal’s Guide to Bill C-75: Understanding the Liberals’ Crime Bill (Part 2 of 2)

This article was first published anonymously at North Shore Counter-Info. This is the second part of a two part series. Start at the beginning here.

In part 1 of this series, we saw briefly what the Liberals’ crime bill C-75 intends to accomplish and looked at one of the big tasks it set for itself: creating a legislative response to some recent Supreme Court decisions. Although those are perhaps the most important aspects of the bill, the remaining sections will also have major impacts on the lives of those who have to deal with the legal system. So here, we’ll look at how Bill C-75 gives more power to prosecutors to decide how to go after people, how it changes the treatment of youth, and finally how it is reacting to social movements, namely those around the death of Colton Boushie and #MeToo.

Probably the most controversial aspect of the bill is the discretion it proposes to give the crown about how to prosectute cases. Bill C-75 will turn a large number of indictable offenses into hybrid offenses, giving more power to prosecutors to decide how to pursue cases.

Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment | Leave a comment

Reflecting on the Prison Farms “Victory”

This anonymous individual reflection was first published at North Shore Counter-Info.

Yesterday, the Federal Government announced that a dairy farm would be established at Joyceville Institution alongside goat and vegetable operations, as part of the return of the prison farms work program at Kingston-area federal prisons.

This announcement basically means complete victory for the “Save Our Prison Farms” coalition, a group made up of farmers, foodies, and progressive Christians which has campaigned persistently for almost 10 years for this very outcome. At the press conference at Joyceville prison, coalition leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Liberal politicians and prison administrators, who even brought a couple of animals with them for good measure. A public celebration is planned for next month.

As an anarchist who participated in this campaign during its build-up and direct action phase in 2009-2010, and spent the next couple years attempting (mostly unsuccessfully) to persuade the base of this movement to join a subsequent campaign against prison expansion led by End the Prison Industrial Complex, it’s bittersweet and a moment for some reflection.

Continue reading

Posted in Collins Bay, Frontenac Institution, Prison Farms | Leave a comment

A Criminal’s Guide to Bill C-75: Understanding the Liberal Crime Bill (Part 1)

This article was first published anonymously at North Shore Counter-Info.

It’s the Colton Boushie bill and the #MeToo bill. It’s the bill that wants to speed trials up and change how people are impacted by bail while waiting. It’s a bill that frees the state’s hand to treat minor crimes more seriously or to use serious crimes more lightly. It’s a bill that talks about having fewer youth in the system but makes it easier to charge them as adults. It’s the bill that lets cops avoid cross-examination, sends you to court by video, and formally decriminalizes anal sex. It’s a 300 page omnibus bill from the party that spent years promising to never use omnibus bills.

Continue reading

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New arrests in Hamilton and Montreal: Updates, and call for support

We are sharing the following update and call for support from Hamilton Anarchist Support – to keep up to date with ongoing developments, keep an eye on https://hamiltonanarchistsupport.noblogs.org – and consider sending them some support!

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New arrests in Hamilton and Montreal: Updates, and call for support

We write this just to give a quick update on the rapidly changing situation in Hamilton. since yesterday, May 31 2018, three more people have been arrested in connection to the so-called Locke St riot: one was picked up by the SPVM in Montreal and was flown to Hamilton, where they are in custody awaiting a bail hearing, and the other two were arrested
in Hamilton. One of these people is already out on bail and another will appear again on Monday. Further, the police released an additional three names of people against whom they have laid charges and are seeking to arrest. Charges against all six include mischief against property, unlawful assembly while masked, and variations of conspiracy and counseling to commit those things.

As anarchists, we want to be clear that we oppose all acts of repression aimed at those who resist oppression and exploitation. Police and prisons do nothing to address the fundamental injustices of this society and locking people in cages is a horrible thing to do. These systems continue to value property over people’s bodies. Solidarity to all those accused, regardless of their charges, and we call on everyone to show their support for these six people.

This is a large number of charges and a huge burden on our material and emotional resources. Our priority right now is getting everyone out on bail, which has so far been costing about $2000 per person (because justice, right?). We hate to be asking for donations again so soon, but the backlash against anarchists and their projects in Hamilton just keeps going on and we’re pretty tapped out. If you can, please make a donation at https://fundraising.the-tower.ca and encourage your friends and comrades to as well.

We’ll keep posting updates as they appear. Check out https://north-shore.info as well for a good source of up to date information about events and conversations in the region.

That said, we’re a pretty determined bunch and aren’t going to abandon our ideas or projects in the face of these attacks by the state. Of course, seeing your friends get arrested is scary, but watching people pull together to organize and defend each other and seeing how those charged hold themselves with courage and integrity is a powerful reminder of our individual and collective strength.

Posted in Announcements, Repression | Leave a comment

Stories of Repression and Resilience

Community Discussion and Fundraising Dinner for Cedar Hopperton

May 11th, 2018 from 5:30-8:30pm
Kingston Unitarian Fellowship Hall (206 Concession St.)

Come enjoy a delicious and healthy dinner while listening to members of our community share stories and wisdom from their experiences of political repression within grassroots social movements.

A few weeks ago, our friend and comrade Cedar was arrested during a house raid in Hamilton. After police kicked in the door and threw a flash grenade into the living room, a SWAT team trashed the house with assault rifles drawn. The people in the house were targeted for organizing publicly as anarchists and being involved with The Tower, an anarchist social centre in Hamilton. Cedar has been charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offense – the state is trying to prove that they helped organize a demonstration in one of Hamilton’s wealthiest neighbourhoods where masks were worn and property was damaged. A more detailed overview of recent events in Hamilton can be found at https://hamiltonanarchistsupport.noblogs.org

Increased repression of social movements concerns all of us who care about resisting the rise of authoritarianism and building better worlds. Because the government and police are oppressive institutions, we can expect that our resistance will inevitably bring repression.But how much that repression succeeds at disrupting our lives and movements depends on how we deal with it! Here in Kingston, we’d like to take this moment to come together to build connections and solidarity and hear from one another. Folks will share stories about political repression and about how they and their communities have supported one another and continued to build strong movements in spite of it. We are lucky to have many committed and strong organizers here who have a lot of experience and wisdom to share with us.

We’ll be collecting donations for the Hamilton Community Defence Fund for legal expenses for Cedar. No one will be turned away for lack of funds – if this event sounds at all interesting to you but providing a donation is currently not within your reach, please come anyway! And if you’d like to donate online: https://fundraising.the-tower.ca

The Unitarian Hall is wheelchair accessible, and dinner will have both vegan and gluten-free options. You’re also welcome to bring your kids! If you have other food-related requests or any other questions, please get in touch with us at epic [at] riseup.net

Hope to see you there!

Posted in Announcements, Events, Repression | Leave a comment