Call for International Solidarity: Storm Their Fragile Bastions of Power

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Jun 032020
 

From Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement

Revolutionary greetings from the insurrection sweeping throughout the occupied territories of the so-called United States of America. We are asking comrades across the world for immediate and unrelenting acts of solidarity against the United States.

In the past few days, we have accumulated experiences that amount to decades of learning. In doing exactly what we previously thought was impossible, we have exposed this country for what it truly is: nothing more than a fragile paper tiger. Tearing at its massive technological police state, the black people of America have demonstrated that they will from hereon refuse to ever be intimidated by a power structure upheld by white terror and violence.

In its desperation, the State is now propagating the falsehood that this rebellion is being led by white outside agitators. We’ve all heard these lies before, most prominently in their history books, where they trot out fictional narratives about how Lincoln freed the slaves. This is nothing other than a more recent installment of an old paternalistic trick by the white supremacist establishment to deny black people the intelligence, the spirit, and the autonomous will to direct their own rebellion and free themselves. As the history of this miserable nation repeats itself once again, what has become clearly evident is that black people have been and will continue to be the only revolutionary force that is capable of toppling the oppressive status quo.

Everywhere the pigs have lost their will to fight. Their eyes, which only yesterday were windows to empty hatred and contempt, now display stultifying self-doubt and cowardice. For once, their behavior portrays their weakness as every step they take back is marked by hesitation.

Whether on the domestic or international front, we can see the Man’s backs up against the wall and so it is the time to be at our most tenacious. We cannot give him an inch to squirm wherever he has put pilfering uncalloused hands. This means that we are calling for all revolutionaries around the world to swarm with antagonistic actions and flood the streets with public demonstations.

Together, if we keep pushing, this land of chattel slavery, indigenous genocide, and foreign imperial aggression can finally be wiped out so that it will only be remembered as one of the more ugly chapters in human history. In turn, each step ushers in the freedom and the solidarity that crowds out the space of our once silent and unheard screams.

All power to the black insurgency!

Storm their vulnerable bastions of power!

Revolution now and always!

Bring the Uprising Home

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Jun 022020
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Supporting the uprising spreading across America over the police murder of George Floyd means bringing it home. We got a sustained glimpse of exactly that Sunday in Montreal, as for the first time in years, the police lost control of downtown for an extended period of time.

After the end of the organized march, a young and multi-racial crowd fought the police outside SPVM headquarters, responding to tear gas with rocks and bottles. People erected barricades and set fires to slow police movements. Over the following hours, hundreds of demonstrators continued to hold space in the street, as storefronts were smashed and goods expropriated up and down Ste-Catherine, the main shopping artery, including at Birks, a high-end jewelry store, which was also attacked with a molotov.

We’ll leave out a play-by-play of the night, to respond to a dynamic that we think could limit our capacity to resist, going forward. While Sunday proved that a wide of array of people are ready to fight back against a system that is rooted in genocide and the ongoing violence of racialized domination, some of the loudest voices during and after the action in the streets have been those clinging to “peaceful protest” as the only acceptable form of resistance.

Relying on rumors and false information, the narrative of white “outside agitators” borrows from white supremacist propaganda and erases the agency of Black people courageously resisting oppression by any means necessary. It’s a narrative aimed at dividing movements and delegitimizing our shared anger and resolve. As anarchist people of color in the United States wrote recently:

Self-pronounced leaders have tried to insinuate that anyone who desires conflict with the police after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis are “White people [who] DON’T get to use Black pain to justify living out riot fantasies.” As if the real white fantasy isn’t people of color policing their own behavior in order to save the white supremacist society from being destroyed. This is an old trick that is worth being exposed, again.

Against these narratives which make it easier for the police to maintain control and keep killing, let’s not hesitate to say clearly that the standard by which we choose how to fight will not be legality or civil-society respectability.

It’s legitimate to attack the police, an institution designed and dedicated to violently suppressing Black people’s freedom, enforcing the theft of native land, and defending those who get rich by exploiting us. By doing so, and by gaining the confidence and tactical capacity to win space and time, we show that we don’t need to accept their hold over our lives.

It’s legitimate to barricade the streets and set fires – to transform an urban environment built for policing into something that might give us a chance of success.

It’s legitimate to loot stores, because everyone should have nice things, and a world that values commercial property over Black lives continues to put people like George Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet in grave danger of premature death.

These should form the starting point for all conversations about how to engage in a diversity of tactics in the streets, conversations which must also address the effects of our actions on those we’re sharing the streets with, how to keep each other safe, and the goal of developing a capacity for conflict with an understanding that we don’t all face the same level of risk.

Many of those policing other demonstrators’ actions go as far as to photograph or film them attacking the police or property, afterwards posting this information on the internet in an attempt to identify and put more people in the hands of the police. To resist this trend, we want to remind everyone present to intervene directly if you see people filming during riots; tell them to stop and if necessary make them stop. And to the brave people breaking glass and starting fires, remind one another to keep your faces covered.

A genuine insurrection is underway south of the border. While the uniquely bloody legacy of racism in the United States gives the rage boiling there a certain anchoring in geography, antagonism toward the police is undeniably universal, and anti-Black racism is deeply engrained in the history of Quebec and Canada. Will we face up to this history-bending moment and find meaningful ways to engage, to extend the revolt, or shrink into scripted, activist displays of superficial “solidarity”? The time is now to bring the uprising home.

Montrealers Create Memorial for Deceased Prisoner, Call for Action

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May 252020
 

From the Anti-Carceral Group

24 May, Montreal – At 2pm today, a caravan of over 30 vehicles visited the Bordeaux jail in Montreal, creating a memorial for the deceased prisoner, Robert Langevin, and calling for immediate and significant actions to keep prisoners and communities safe. The memorial included a message from Mr. Langevin’s sisters, while the vehicles, decorated with slogans such as “Prisons Kill” and “Free All Prisoners,” honked their horns, made noise, and held banners in solidarity with those inside.

Robert Langevin, a 72 year-old prisoner at Bordeaux, died of COVID-19 on the night of May 19 to 20. Deeply ill, Mr. Langevin had repeatedly asked for help from prison staff and filed a complaint with the provincial ombudsperson on March 27th. His sisters, Therèse and Pierette Langevin, sent a message to the participants, which was written on posters and attached to the fence surrounding the Bordeaux prison.

“Dear Robert,” the message said, “It’s with a heavy heart that we say to you: goodbye my brother, you were always a fighter, always there for the world. Today, it’s the world that is there for you. They heard you cry. They want to tell you they’re there for you and to denounce the present injustice across the prison walls. You aren’t alone. We’re here. We love you.”

While honoring Mr. Langevin, the participants also called on the Quebec government to take immediate and significant steps to keep prisoners and communities safe. Jean-Louis Nguyen was one of five participants who have loved ones in Bordeaux. “At the same time that we honour the life of Mr. Langevin, we are here to remind the public that there are still prisoners in difficulty, isolated, sick, without health care and cut off from their family,” said Nguyen. “We need at all costs to prevent another tragedy like the one that took away Mr. Langevin.”

Ted Rutland, a member of the Anti-Carceral Group, said the Quebec Ministry of Public Security needs to release prisoners to enable social distancing. “Quebec’s major response to the COVID-19 crisis in its prisons has been to lock prisoners in their cells 24 hours a day. There are prisoners at Bordeaux who have been locked in their cells for 30 days now, with little contact with the outside. This is literally torture,” said Rutland.

Rutland noted that provinces such as Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Albert, and Nova Scotia have released 25-45% of their prison population to protect prisoners and communities from COVID-19. Quebec, in contrast, has identified only a small category of prisons for potential release. The latest figures suggest that only 29 provincial prisoners have been released through this measure, and lawyers say that prisoners who fit the category continue to be denied early release.

Participants also highlighted the mistreatment of prisoners at Bordeaux. One woman whose husband is incarcerated has not been able to contact him for two weeks, and she worries for his safety. The woman, who prefers not to be named, led participants in chants of “Solidarity” and “You are not forgotten.” Prisoners inside yelled back, and a back and forth continued for half an hour.

Catherine Lizotte, who tried to help Robert Langevin, believes the event achieved its objective. “I want people to know that we’re thinking about them, that we love them,” she said. “And we will continue to fight for their release.”

The crowd left after an hour, just as four SPVM cars arrived to observe. One police car, in violation of the SPVM’s disciplinary code, played the Akon song “Locked Up” on the car’s loudspeaker.

 

Photos from the event are available at https://bit.ly/2TBMTaV

For more information, contact:

Anti-Carceral Group
anticarceralgroup@riseup.net

 

From Embers: History of Epidemics in Canadian Prisons

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May 242020
 

From From Embers

In the context of ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in Canadian prisons and jails, I was curious about other times in history that prisoners have faced similar situations and especially times when prisoners have been released as a result. Today’s interview is with a local prison historian about epidemics and public health in Canadian prisons, mostly about the 19th and early 20th century. Also some stories about prisoners being released, what health care was like inside and outside of prison walls, and what kind of world people were returning to.

Family Members and Advocates Call for Action after the Death of a Prisoner at Bordeaux

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May 212020
 

From Anti-Carceral Group

20 May, Montreal – In the wake of today’s announcement that a 72-year-old prisoner at Bordeaux has died of COVID-19, family members and prisoner advocates are calling for immediate and significant actions to keep prisoners and the community safe. In doing so, they reject Minister of Public Security Geneviéve Guilbault’s claim at today’s press briefing that the preventive measures implemented by her ministry are working and that nothing more needs to be done.

Bordeaux is the provincial prison hardest hit by COVID-19 anywhere in Canada. The first case at the prison was recorded on April 24th. Since then, the number of prisoners infected has risen to 92 and the number of staff infected has risen to 35. In spite of the worsening situation, the response of prison officials and the Ministry of Public Security has been lackluster. Reports from inside suggest that prison guards have failed to wear masks and gloves consistently, while prisoners have never been provided adequate personal protective equipment. More importantly, prison staff have failed to provide testing or health care when prisoners have exhibited symptoms. Indeed, the deceased prisoner, believed to be Robert Langevin, had been deathly ill for more than a week before his death, and was never provided the care he needed.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are more than troubling. The Ministry of Public Security has demonstrated through its inaction that it is indifferent to the conditions of prisoners in this dangerous time,” said Jean-Louis Nguyen, whose partner is incarcerated at Bordeaux. “Bordeaux prison failed to provide adequate care to Mr. Langevin, despite repeated complaints from him regarding his state of health for the three days leading up to his death. This death was preventable and, in my eyes, scandalous.”

Rather than providing health care, the major response to the COVID-19 crisis at Bordeaux has been to confine prisoners to their cells 24 hours per day. Many prisoners have been on 24-hour lockdown since April 24th. This has meant no showers, no television, no reading material, and nothing to do. They were also unable to make phone calls to family members until May 12, when the prison began providing detainees a 5-minute phone call every two days.

24-hour confinement, in addition to violating prisoner’s human rights, also aggravates their physical and mental health. “From the start, the prison has put the health of detainees in danger and has never provided the care they need,” said a woman whose partner is in pretrial detention in Bordeaux. “My partner is in a sector that has been on 24-hour confinement since April 28. He suffers from chest pain and sought medical attention, but received nothing. Respect for human rights means improving health practices, providing medical care, and massively reducing the prison population.”

Prisoners at Bordeaux are forcibly exposed to COVID-19 and denied appropriate health care. Many prisoners feel they have been left to die. “We’re people too and we’re clearly being left here to die,“ said one prisoner. “No one is coming up with a real plan to stop COVID from spreading in here. We fear for our lives now more than ever.”

The concerns of prisoners are mirrored by their family members outside. “The prison treats people like animals,” said Valéry Goudreau, whose partner is on remand at Bordeaux. “My partner is sick, they refuse to take care of him, and the guards have been refusing him food for four days now because he will not get on his knees to receive the tray.”

The death of a prisoner should be a moment to reflect on the measures the Quebec government and prison officers have implemented to keep prisoners and the community safe. While Geneviève Guilbault believes that her ministry has taken appropriate measures and that nothing needs to change, family members and prisoner advocates believe otherwise. “From the beginning, people have been calling for the release of prisoners to allow proper social distancing,” noted Ted Rutland, a member of the Anti-Carceral Group.  “Ontario has released more than 3,000 prisoners, and four other provinces have released 25-45% of their prison populations. Quebec refuses to take such steps, even as Quebec’s prisons are the hardest-hit in the country and 75% of provincial prisoners are awaiting trial and could be released on bail.”

While MM. Guilbault announced on May 6th that a small number of prisoners would be eligible for release, these numbers are far too small to make a difference. “We now have proof that the minister’s announcement on May 6 was insufficient and ineffective on the ground,” said Jean-Luis Nguyen. “As a loved one, I urge the authorities to intervene, once and for all, to prevent such a tragedy from happening again within these walls. Quebec can no longer afford to continue to neglect incarcerated people.”

For more information contact:

Anti-Carceral Group
anticarceralgroup@riseup.net

As Laval Detention Centre Empties, CBSA Pushes Tracking Bracelets on Migrants

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May 142020
 

From Solidarity Across Borders

Community Update

#FreeThemAll #StatusForAll #HungerStrikeLaval #BordeauxHungerStrike

After two months of resistance by detainees and their supporters, the Laval Immigration Holding Centre now stands almost empty. Only 2 men and 1 woman remain inside, watched over by dozens of guards. While the struggle continues to empty this prison entirely, and to ensure it never reopens, we now confront other ways the state controls migrants and is even pushing forward new forms of surveillance under cover of the pandemic.

At the end of March, detainees in Laval’s migrant prison (run by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA)) undertook a brave, 8-day hunger strike demanding immediate release. Through written statements and daily audio updates, their call gathered support from Halifax to Vancouver. While the government refused to publicly concede to the demand to free them all – even after guards tested positive for COVID in both the Montreal and Toronto migrant prisons – the detainees’ releases were accelerated through individual detention review hearings. With deportations suspended, there seem to have been no new detentions and the centre has emptied.

However, migrants are also imprisoned in provincial jails. Quebec’s jails have the highest COVID-19 infection rate of any province, but the government has refused calls for a comprehensive release plan. Instead, guards have used pepper spray and force against prisoners who have taken action to protest the life-threatening conditions being forced on them. On May 5th, prisoners in Quebec’s Bordeaux jail responded to these conditions by beginning a brave hunger strike that continues at the time of this writing. Some migrant detainees have been transferred from Leclerc and Rivière-des-Prairies (RDP) provincial prisons to the Laval migrant prison and then released. As of April 28th, 15 men remained in RDP on immigration holds while over 100 more remain in provincial jails across the country.

For many migrants, getting out of the detention centre has not led to much greater security or freedom. Release often involves large cash bonds (in effect, some of the poorest in society are paying thousands of dollars to the state to secure their freedom). Many still face deportation and in the meantime live in precarious housing with no income. Work permit processing is currently suspended for those requiring biometric data and welfare takes weeks or even months to process for those who are eligible. Conditions of release may include frequent reporting to CBSA, living with one’s bondsperson, and even curfews and confinement to defined area perimeters. Moreover, through its new “Alternatives to Detention” programme, the CBSA is outsourcing control of migrants to third parties such as the John Howard Society, which oversees punitive parole-like “case management” programmes in Quebec, sometimes in combination with GPS-voice recognition tracking.

Under cover of the pandemic, the CBSA is now also attempting to introduce ankle bracelets to GPS-track migrants in Quebec, “offering” it to several detainees as the price of freedom. We do not know whether anyone has already been released under this condition. While lawyers can fight the bracelet being imposed on their clients, the legal fightback is time-consuming and may not appear worth the effort to all lawyers.

As Quebec moves to send more workers into dangerous conditions during the pandemic, construction work on CBSA’s new migrant prison in Laval is set to resume as well. While people continue to get sick and die in prisons and detention centres across the country, and while so many are struggling to get by, it is appalling that the state would choose to continue the construction of a new prison and divert resources into intensifying surveillance of migrants.

Free them all! Status for all!

Manifesto of Bordeaux Prisoners

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May 142020
 

From Anti-Carceral Group

For more information on the hunger strike and the situation at Bordeaux Prison, read an earlier post.

A group of prisoners at Bordeaux, who aim to create a prisoners committee, communicated the following demands to their lawyer on May 11, 2020.

  1. We demand the release of more prisoners, because what was announced last week [an announcement by Quebec Minister of Public Security Geneviève Guilbault on May 6] affects only a tiny fraction of the detainees. In Bordeaux, very few prisoners meet the categories specified by the decree. We should not be playing with people’s lives – COVID-19 is a fatal disease. We are not reassured by the measures taken to date;

  2. We demand that each day spent in Bordeaux count for three days of prisoners’ sentence, since the conditions in the prison are radically diminished and unacceptable: there are no more visits, no activities, no TV, nothing to do all day;

  3. We demand that prisoners with one year or less remaining on their sentence receive early release;

  4. We demand prisoners receive personal protective equipment. At the moment, prisoners have access to gloves, but they are gloves for serving food – this isn’t adequate. Prisoners do not have any access to masks, and we demand access to masks;

  5. Prisoners in some sectors have been granted X-Boxes, while others have not. We demand access to more activities;

  6. We demand the creation of a prisoners committee and the recognition of this committee by the prison, in order to constitute a common front;

  7. We demand to know how the Bordeaux prisoners’ fund is used – where does the money from this fund go?

 

Bordeaux Hunger Strike

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May 142020
 

From Anti-Carceral Group

Edit: On May 11, 2020 a group of prisoners at Bordeaux, who aim to create a prisoners committee, communicated a series of demands to their lawyer. You can read it here.

On May 5, a group of prisoners at the Etablissement de détention Montréal, better known as Bordeaux prison, began a hunger strike in response to the rapidly escalating COVID-19 crisis at the institution. As of May 8, the hunger strike has spread to at least four sectors of the prison and other acts of resistance have proliferated.

No formal demands have been presented to the public, as the conditions inside presently make it almost impossible for prisoners to communicate with one another. However, individual prisoners have communicated a series of demands. These include:

  • Provide prisoners with masks and hand sanitizer, ensure that prison staff wear their masks and gloves at all times, and ensure proper sanitation of cells and common spaces.

  • Provide prisoners with up-to-date and accurate information about COVID-19 infections and testing at Bordeaux and the safety measures implemented (including the isolation of infected prisoners).

  • Test all prisoners and prison staff for COVID-19 immediately and continually.

  • Expand access to medical release (for prisoners who have been sentenced) and provide expedited bail hearings (for those detained pre-trail). Release as many prisoners as possible to allow social distancing to be practiced in the community and better allow it within the prison (for those not released).

  • End 24-hour lockdown for prisoners who are not infected or symptomatic of COVID-19. Allow prisoners time on the range, and ensure daily access to prison telephones.

  • This list will be updated if and when a series of collective demands are made public

Background information

The dangerous conditions that prompted the strike at Bordeaux have been building for weeks. Bordeaux has quickly become the provincial prison second hardest-hit by COVID-19 in Canada (after Ontario Correctional Institute in Brampton, Ontario). The first positive COVID-19 test among Bordeaux prisoners was registered on April 24. As of May 12, the number COVID-infected prisoners has risen to 55, while at least 30 prison staff have tested positive. From the beginning of the pandemic, moreover, prisoners have criticized the lack of COVID-related safety protocols implemented in the prison, as well as the lack of information provided to prisoners.

Information about the hunger strike is limited and difficult to obtain. Media reporting has largely relied on information from the Quebec prison guards union (Syndicat des agents de la paix en services correctionels du Québec), a deeply unreliable source. Information from prisoners is more reliable, but due to the full or partial lockdown in place (depending on the sector), it has been difficult for prisoners to get information out and, more than this, to ascertain what is happening across the prison’s multiple sectors.

The following provides the most comprehensive and reliable picture of the Bordeaux prison hunger strike, based on information relayed from prisoners to their family members, lawyers, and members of the Anti-Carceral Group.

The origins and spread of the COVID-19 crisis

The COVID-19 virus first hit Sector E, which cages 170 people. This sector is where most prisoners who work in the kitchen and serve food are detained. The possibility that infected prisoners had made or touched the food served to the entire prison caused widespread concern when the news spread.

Sector E was placed on 24-hour a day lockdown (prisoners are confined to their cells) on April 24th. According to the most recent information, it remains on lockdown. Prisoners have no access to showers or prison telephones. Officially, they continue to have once-a-week access to the cantine (with goods delivered to their cells), but reports suggest that certain floors have missed cantine at least one week. Family members outside have been unable to contact their loved ones and have received no information from prison staff, including whether or not their loved one is infected. Some family members have been sending written letters, but do not know if the letters are being received and have not received any letters in return. One family member was finally told on May 8th that letters are being received, but that sending letters in return is prohibited.

Some lawyers who have clients in Sector E have been able to arrange a 10-minute phone call with their client. This has required persistent requests, in writing and by phone, to prison staff. In cases where they have been granted a phone call, a prison guard provides a cellular phone to the prisoner to have the 10-minute call from their cell.

It is unclear how many prisoners in Sector E have been tested. Reports suggest that prisoners in the sector who worked in the kitchen were quickly transferred to Sector A, without having been tested. A report from a prisoner suggests that, by the end of the day on May 8th, nearly all prisoners in that sector had finally been tested.

By May 2, the virus had spread to Sector C, which cages 180 people. The sector was immediately placed on lockdown, with the same restrictions as Sector E. The remainder of the prison was also placed on 23-hour per day lockdown, with prisoners permitted to leave their cells, but not their range, one hour per day. Since May 7, these restrictions have been loosened in Sector B, with prisoners allowed out of their cells for 4 hours per day.

On the evening of May 8th, some prisoners in Sector E and C were finally allowed to make a 5-minute telephone call – their first communication with the outside world in 15 days. As with calls to lawyers, this involved a prison guard providing a cellular phone to the prisoner to make the call.

Despite the dire situation, prison staff do not consistently wear masks and gloves when in proximity to prisoners, and there is no proper sanitation of the cells or ranges. A report from a prisoner on May 8th suggests that guards are finally wearing masks and gloves, but that prisoners still do not have access to PPE. Sectors E and C (and perhaps others) have been periodically deprived of running water for long stretches of time, making cleaning and using the toilet impossible. It is unclear whether guards are tested for COVID-19.

Guards also taunt prisoners, saying they will be infected and allowed to die. Guards in Sector C are demanding that prisoners kneel on the ground to receive their meals; a prisoner with hearing problems, who did not comprehend the order, has missed several meals as a result. A guard in Sector C taunted an 18 year-old detainee by showing him a cell phone and saying he had his mother on the line, and then walking away. The stress level for prisoners continues to mount, and multiple prisoners have expressed that they feel they are being left to die.

The hunger strike and other resistance

In response to the increasingly dangerous situation, acts of resistance at Bordeaux have proliferated. On the morning May 5, prisoners in Sector G began a hunger strike, refusing to eat the meal served to them. By the evening of May 5, prisoners on other wings had joined the strike.

Reports on which sectors are participating in the strike are inconsistent. Multiple sources have confirmed the participation of Sectors D and G. One source, a prisoner in Section B, claims sector B is participating as well. Some prisoners, while refusing to eat the meals served to them, continue to eat food from the cantine.

There are also reports of other acts of resistance at Bordeaux. The source of these reports is the prison guards union, and should therefore be treated with caution. The reported acts of resistance include: breaking windows, spitting on guards, breaking objects in cells, and flooding the ranges with water. Prisoners in Sector E were told their 24-hour per day lockdown would end on May 11, after 17 days. When the lockdown was not lifted, the prisoners reportedly set fire to toilet paper and magazines and overflowed their toilets. The prison responded by shutting off the water.

On May 10, a noise demonstration took place outside Bordeaux. A caravan of 30 cars, including three people with family members in Bordeaux, drove to the prison, honked their horns and waved protest signs to show support for the prisoners and denounce the inaction of the Quebec government.

The response of the Quebec Ministry of Public Security to the escalating COVID-19 crisis at Bordeaux has been minimal. On May 6, the Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault announced that certain categories of prisoners would be eligible for medical release. Her announcement specified that such releases might be possible for prisoners convicted of non-violent offences, with less than 30 days remaining on their sentence, with health complications. This announcement offers nothing to the 75% of Bordeaux prisoners who are being held pre-trial (and therefore have not been sentenced), and Quebec has consistently refused to follow the lead of provinces like Ontario and Nova Scotia in expediting bail hearings to release remanded prisoners.

 

Noise Demos Outside Montreal-Area Prisons Following Death of Prisoner and a Hunger Strike

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May 112020
 

 

From Anti-Carceral Group

10 May, Montreal – At 2pm today, a caravan of over 30 vehicles visited the Federal Training Centre prison in Laval and the Bordeaux jail in Montreal, demanding the immediate release of all prisoners in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vehicles, decorated with slogans such as, ‘Prison Should Not Be A Death Sentence,’ & ‘Free All Prisoners,’ honked their horns, made noise, and held banners in solidarity with those inside.

“We’re here today to show people inside these prisons that they’re not forgotten and that we’re out here working for their release,” said Ellie Santon, a participant in the demonstration. “What’s happening in these prisons is a crisis created by the government. If they wanted to, they could solve all this tomorrow. For some reason they seem intent on letting people die.”

On May 5th, Correctional Services Canada (CSC) announced that a prisoner held inside Laval’s Federal Training Centre had died from COVID-19, the second death inside a federal prison due to the pandemic. 138 prisoners have now tested positive for COVID-19 in the Federal Training Centre, making it the largest outbreak in a Quebec federal prison.

“The government has spent months refusing to act and now the virus has exploded inside prisons and people are dying,” said Virginia Boucher of the Prison Support Committee. “There is no justifiable reason for this. People should be released from prison, now. People in halfway houses should be allowed to live at their own homes full time. Everyone released should have access to safe housing and healthcare.”

On May 5th, prisoners in Quebec’s Bordeaux jail also began a hunger strike that has since spread to multiple sectors of the institution. There are over 60 cases of COVID-19 associated with the Bordeaux jail, where 75 percent of prisoners are being held pre-trial, making it the 2nd largest outbreak in a provincial prison.

“I’m worried about my partner, who is in one of the infected sectors,” said Jean-Louis Nguyen, a participant in the demonstration. “He finally got tested on Friday, but we don’t know the results, and his parole hearing just got postponed by two weeks. Quebec needs to provide public information about what’s happening in its prisons and expedite bail and parole hearings to get as many people as possible out of prison and back with their communities.”

“Quebec’s jails now have the highest infection rate of any province, but they’ve refused to act,” said Ted Rutland of the Anti-Carceral Group. “Provinces like Ontario and Nova Scotia have released thousands of prisoners by speeding up bail hearings and releasing people close to the end of their sentence, but Quebec refuses to follow their example.”

Social distancing is impossible inside prisons and prisoners are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. Health care in prison is abysmal. Guards have employed pepper spray and force against prisoners across the country who have taken action to protest their situation. There are now over 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to prisons across Canada.

#liberezlestou.te.s
#grevedefaimbordeaux
#bordeauxhungerstrike
#FreeThemAll
#FreeThemAllCaravan
#FreeThemAll4PublicHealth

Fuck the Police – Tomorrow and Forever [Video]

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May 022020
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

May Day is an occasion to remind ourselves why we fight for a more just world, a world not submitted to the domination of a capitalist elite, a world where we can dream. However, for reasons that are clear, we won’t be able to assemble in the streets this year, but this doesn’t mean the resistance is dead. Despite its ravages, the coronavirus crisis has provided many with the opportunity to break with normality and reconsider the anxiety-inducing, senseless and dehumanizing rhythms of our lives. More than ever, these troubled times are the occasion to reflect on the possibilities of creating a new world that only we can shape through mutual aid and solidarity.

However, times of crisis are also fertile ground for the development of authoritarian solutions. So it’s important to remind ourselves that the proper management of this crisis passes through our capacity for collective action and that we must prepare to respond to police forces that, for their part, will operate with more violence and arrogance than ever. Whether here, in Villeneuve-la-Garenne in France, or elsewhere in the world, confinement measures have given police services a wide array of new powers, allowing them to act with increasing brutality with impunity. Faced with this reality, it was important for us to tell these parasites that, despite the crisis, they will never be welcome in our communities.