Anonymous submission to North Shore
For the 15th year in a row, we lit up the sky with fireworks to deliver warm new years greetings to prisoners in Hamilton, ON.
Our first stop was to the George R Force Group Home, an open custody and detention facility for youth (ie. some residents may be allowed to leave at times, others aren’t). Whatever the name, this is a jail for kids, and is part of a prison system that we want to completely destroy. Around 30 of us filled the street outside, displaying our Happy New Year banner and setting off fireworks. We could only be sure that one kid caught the show, but hopefully it made a difference in their night.
Next we made our annual stop at the Barton Jail, the monument to misery that looms over downtown Hamilton. We came prepared with fireworks, smoke, and paint, and nicely decorated the jail while providing a show for folks inside. There’s a distinct feeling watching every window for three stories fill with silouettes waving and banging on their windows, while you and your crew shout and wave back, filling the night air with as much noise and light as you can. Despite the heavy force of oppression that pushes down on all of us every day, we’ll continue to push back, to fight the fear and isolation, and dream of a free world.
This year in the Barton Jail, over 100 prisoners participated in a collective hunger strike over their conditions, which lasted up to five days on some ranges. Issues including access to yard time, medical care and programming continue to be ongoing struggles for the 600+ people inside. Most recently, even in the last few days, the jail has been arbitrarily shutting off heat to certain ranges for days at a time, with significant impacts on peoples’ mental and physical health.
Through a local prisoner support phone line, we got word that the fireworks were seen and appreciated by those inside, making them feel a little less alone. We want our neighbours to know that they’re not forgotten, and that as long as any of us are locked up, we’ll be fighting for freedom along with them.