From Embers: New Content in Spring 2020

From Embers is a regular anarchist podcast produced in Kingston, Ontario. We produce a few episodes each month about actions and projects going on in so-called Canada that inspire us, or about topics that we think will be relevant to anarchists living north of the border. We are part of the Channel Zero Anarchist Podcast Network.

Usually we publish a monthly round-up, but these are strange times and our lives have been turned upside down like everyone else’s. We have published five episodes since our March round-up: Read More …

Hamilton: Recent Updates from the Barton Prisoner Solidarity Project

There have been a number of updates from the Barton Prisoner Solidarity Project about conditions in the facility over the past month, and we compile them here.

Covid in the Courts is a Guilty Plea Machine

May 15, 2020: “They say they’re letting people out, but they’re not. They’re just doing it like in Mission”, a Barton prisoner told us yesterday, referring to the federal prison in Mission, BC where a prisoner died from coronavirus this week and at least seven have been hospitalised. The prison there has been on lockdown to deal with the outbreak and people in Barton see the similarities with the lockdown they are facing here. It claims to be a health measure, but for many, the consequences are mostly legal. Read More …

Ottawa: Midpoint Reflections on the Pandemic

Since March, several possibilities have opened up in this city for tenants to work together in our interests against landlords. While Herongate Tenant Coalition was formed in May 2018 by tenants across our neighbourhood in the south end of so-called Ottawa to defend against Timbercreek’s massive demoviction campaign, this pandemic has created another urgency; this time for working class people across the city to unite to proactively address our suffering under these specific conditions we share. Hence why the Keep Your Rent strategy rang so powerfully here as it did in other cities. Read More …

Keep Your Rent Hamilton – Reflections on May Day and Organizing in a Pandemic

The first of May is celebrated in most countries around the world—and by North American leftists—as May Day, or International Workers Day. For most working-class people in Hamilton, however, this year it had a more urgent significance. For the second time since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, rent was due.

Rent day can be a source of stress at the best of times. And these are far from the best of times. Over the past two months, millions of workers across Canada have been laid off or had their hours cut. Nearly one in five Canadians are now receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), a temporary federal income support that offers two thousand dollars a month in taxable income to those who have lost work as a result of the pandemic. For people in Ontario earning $48,535 or less per year, the payment works out to $1590 per month after taxes. It’s already been pointed out that this isn’t sufficient to cover the current market rent of a one-bedroom apartment in cities like Toronto and Vancouver. In Hamilton, the CERB will cover rent… barely. But beyond that, there’s not much room left over for luxuries such as food, medicine or other basic necessities. Shockingly, this hasn’t stopped landlords from staking their claim to their tenants’ cheques anyway. Read More …

Hamilton: Keep your CERB, keep your rent! No bailout for landlords

In the last week, tens of thousands of Hamiltonians have applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the government’s COVID-19 income support package which provides payments of $2,000/month for up to four months. In this post we look into the nuts and bolts of the CERB rollout and consider what the government hopes to accomplish by ladling out all this cash.

For working-class people in Hamilton, $2,000/month is a lot of money. And it comes at a time when people that did not pay rent on April 1st are feeling the pressure to find the money somewhere for their landlords. Recent surveys estimate that 30% of renter households across Canada and 25% of renter households in the Greater Toronto Area did not pay April rent. Sources in post. Read More …

Hamilton: Update message from Barton Prisoners

The prisoners of Barton Jail continue to feel that they are forgotten. Telling us that ‘No one stands up for prisoners, we don’t have a voice’ and that its a relief to have a number to call to tell the outside about what happening inside.

Lock downs seem to happen intermittently on different ranges at different times for different reasons but all stem from the guards unwillingness to deal with any situation. We have reports that folks are slowly being let out but in an excruciatingly slow and dragged out process. And still, even with the state of the country during this covid crisis new people are being brought into the jail. Many feel as if the guards will just ‘sit back and watch us die’ when the virus makes its way in to the jail.

Audio file in post Read More …

Two Demos for Barton Prisoners: What’s possible in the streets during Covid?

Last Friday, April 10, the Barton Prisoner Solidarity Project (BAPSOP) published a report that some prisoners had been attacked by guards after refusing a lockdown, and today two actions occurred to support the prisoners and call for their immediate release. During the day, there was a public call for a car demo, then at night, an invite-only action to go set off lights and fireworks.

This kind of solidarity mobilizing happens not infrequently around here, but this time felt a bit different because of the virus and the repressive social context around it. As an anarchist who participated in both actions, I wanted to share a few reflections on this campaign and on doing demos in the covid era, as a letter to others who are also asking what’s possible in these strange times. Read More …

Lambs to the Slaughter: An Ontario prisoner on COVID-19 behind bars

For the past two weeks, we have heard from dozens of prisoners locked up behind the walls of the Hamilton-Wentworth detention centre. People are feeling scared about catching the virus, concerned for their families, and angry about the myths that are being reported about the conditions that they’re living in.

Some prisoners, despite fear of reprisals from guards, have decided that it’s worth risking their own safety to get their stories out. As one put it, “this is bigger than me”.

Click through for the recording Read More …

Hamilton: Barton Jail Update — Freeing all the prisoners is possible

Since last Friday when it was confirmed that a Barton Jail employee tested positive for the coronavirus, we’ve been on the phone daily with inmates asking how the news has played out on the inside. Today, the jail is on lockdown — just the most recent in a string of at least ten lockdowns in the last month. This one, however, is expected to last since it’s caused by guards no longer showing up to work due to the virus. It is expected to last until at least Thursday, though some have been told to expect it to last even longer. Read More …

From Embers: New Episodes in March 2020

From Embers is a regular anarchist podcast produced in Kingston, Ontario. We produce a few episodes each month about actions and projects going on in so-called Canada that inspire us, or about topics that we think will be relevant to anarchists living north of the border. We are part of the Channel Zero Anarchist Podcast Network. Read More …