When we reached our first destination, the Tanguay women’s prison, the chanting crowd entered through the open gate across a parking lot while the pigs held back at the entrance. Around the back entrance many speeches were given over a mega-phone addressed to the prisoners in hopes of them hearing the words of solidarity in both French and English. Bursts of chants, horns and fireworks were used to get the attention of our friends inside. Soon into the visit we heard calls of response from the windows, “Bonne année” (happy new year) which fired up even more noise and love from the crowd. The crowd spent 20 minutes exchanging chants of solidarity and well wishing with the women before promising to return and marching on to our next target.
Another 15 minute walk brought us to the Bordeaux men’s prison which is the largest provincial prison in Quebec. This time the crowd had to duck around a swing gate and confront a much grander fortress with 30 foot walls surrounding it. Exploding fireworks announced our presence and speeches were again delivered expressing our desire to abolish prisons and all authority. After much noise-making and then listening, responses came from the men inside. Again “happy new years” was heard loud and clear, we’d respond with “solidarité avec les prisonniers”. Many different voices joined in on the yelling from beyond the walls from every corner of the monstrous building. This riled the crowd up even more as we shot off the rest of our firework arsenal. The opportunity was presented for anybody to take the mic and give a personal message which would also be broadcast on local radio as the event was being documented by independent media comrades. Upon leaving we once again took the four lane street chanting “police partout, justice nulle part” (police everywhere, justice nowhere) and “our passion for freedom is stronger than their prisons”. The demo dispersed with out any pig interference at the metro station where it had begun.
An edited audio recording of the event has been published here:
The following is the text of the two sided bilingual flyer distributed during the march.
New Year’s Eve Anti-Prison Demo … or, why we hate prisons
Noise demonstrations in front of prisons and deportations centers are an ongoing tradition in many parts of the world to remember those who are detained by the state. It is a way of showing solidarity to the people imprisoned inside. Prisons were created to isolate people from their communities, so these demos are a way of coming together to fight against repression and break that isolation.
Prisons exist to enforce the authority of those in power- there can be no austerity measures, nor capitalism, without prisons who can’t, or chose not to fit into this system. In fact, prison expansion and austerity measures go hand in hand. As the government cuts more social services, it is equally busy expanding the prison system. The state is currently spending an estimated $4 million building 22 new prisons and expanding many of the existing ones across the country, while also passing new laws like Bill C-10 and C-38, which seek to put more people in prison for longer and ensure the mandatory detention of refugees. This gives the state more leeway to imprison both those who are fighting it, such as those jailed as a result of the student strike this spring or the G20 protests in Toronto 2010, as well as those who challenged its laws merely to survive. People are ripped from their communities and once inside end up serving as a pool of slave labour for industry.
Let’s let those inside know that they are not forgotten- we can share our opposition to the bars, the guards and the world of misery and exploitation that needs them. Because no one is free until we are all free. Inside as well as out, let’s revolt!