Denouncing the conditions inside, the participants of the demonstration read statements against prisons and their relation to systems of colonialism, patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism. With noise-makers, fireworks, music, and speeches the demonstrators sent a message of support and solidarity to these prisoners who, locked away from the rest of society and separated from friends and family, are the amongst the most directly affected by austerity measures, and also the most inhibited from expressing opposition to the arbitrary violent measures of the government.
On December 31 2015, women in Tanguay released a list of demands, and they have recently reported more arbitrary violence and abuse during the move to Leclerc. They are currently facing even harsher conditions than they were in Tanguay. (Their manifesto is online at https://toutedetentionestpolitique.wordpress.com/ .) The writers of the demands decry the lack of adequate food, cleaning supplies, and access to hygiene products. The women are demanding access to reinsertion programs, more time on the yard, and medical care for people going through withdrawal, among other things.
“Women who were demanding better conditions for themselves in Tanguay, who are now in Leclerc provincial prison, are an integral part of the fight against austerity. We must connect their struggles inside prison to our struggles on the outside,” said Virginie Dubeau, an organizer with the group All Detentions are Political. “This evening’s demonstration is held in support of their demands, for the closure of all prisons, and an end to patriarchal violence.”
« The threat of prison is used to confine people within the oppressive systems of colonialism, capitalism and patriarchy. Indigenous people, people of colour and poor people are disproportionally locked up in prisons in Canada, » explained Dubeau. « In the last five years, the total number of women convicted of crimes punishable by time in prison increased by 40%, while the number of Indigenous women locked up increased by 85% in the last ten years. This has nothing to do with a so-called ‘increase in crime’ since the ‘crime rate’ has actually diminished; it has everything to do with racial profiling and the way that certain populations are kept in constant economic precarity. »
After the demonstration at Leclerc, the participants headed the Tanguay Prison in Ahuntsic for a symbolic action against all prisons and detention centres. Silhouettes were attached to the fence to commemorate the impacts prisons have on individuals, families and communities; to remember the violence and trauma caused by these institutions and to honour the resistance and resilience of the people that have passed through them.
Karine Tremblay, member of the group All Detentions are Political explains : “We want to point out that this is no victory as the people that were incarcerated here remain prisoners, in a situation where they currently face harsher conditions. Keeping this is mind, however, we are gathered here today to use the symbol of an empty jail to state again our desire to see all of the prison industrial complex collapse. As this system destroys our communities and reinforces the status quo of oppression by persecuting all that is not mentally able-white-cis-hetero-manly-rich, we understand that no demand could ever bring it down, that only active resistance can succeed in liberating us.”
Under banners that read,“Down with prisons! Freedom and dignity for all!”, the organizers of the demonstration also invited the demonstrators to think about alternatives to prisons.
« Prisons don’t make our communities safer, they destroy our communities. Prisons magnify the colonial, racist and patriarchal realities that are part of everyday life in Canada, » stated Tremblay.
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