Archive | October, 2012

Court today…..the political prosecution continues!!!!!

31 Oct

Today Oct. 31st. the crown decided to continue to proceed with my charges by inditement for allegedly breaking the publication ban on the g20 undercover dirty ops, by writing about my experience with the infiltration despite widespread opposition and the blatent way in which the courts are being used to criminalize political dissent.

The day began with the police refusing to let us bring a red flag in the building because flags, as political symbols are not allowed in the courthouse. Ironically they were handing out poppies in the court, a symbol of glorification of Anglo American imperialism and no one seems to have a problem with the Canadian Flag or Union Jack, symbols of colonialism in the court house, nor is there any issue with the Queens emblem and image being hung in the court house.
The police presence for my hearing was intense, further attempting to present me as a hooligan and criminal.

When i went up in front of the judge I stated that this was not a criminal case but rather a case of selective persecution of activists and stated that the crown was using the courts to criminalize dissent and as a political tool and that my charges should be dropped immediately.

The Court ruled that my next Judicial Pretrial is Nov. 16th at 10 am in the Superior court which will be open to the public. At this hearing I will conduct myself as I always do, politically and principled further elaborating the need to resist the state using the courts as a tool to criminalize peoples politics.

Collusion- The murder of Alan Ryan and the role of the state

30 Oct

From 32csm webpage

Collusion and the murder of Alan Ryan

Collusion- The murder of Alan Ryan and the role of the state

It has been less than 3 months since IRA volunteer and 32CSM activist Alan Ryan was murdered. Yet from the day of his murder there have been several unresolved issues raised about the role of the state in the run up to his murder and their conspicuous absence from the area whilst the killers made good their escape. The questions raised about state complicity have gained added currency following the behaviour of the state following Alan’s murder. This piece is intended to raise these issues and to initiate a wider discussion about collusion and to hopefully begin a campaign to force the gardai to answer difficult questions about their complicity in Alan’s murder.

There are three main areas surrounding the murder of Alan that require questions to be answered. These are the media campaign of vilification and defamation leading up to his murder, the behaviour of the Gardai on the day of his murder and their behaviour in the weeks following. By examining each and probing into the relationship between the state, gardai, media and the drugs gangs it will become clear that there are wider agendas at play in Alan’s murder.

In the two years prior to his murder Alan and other members of his family had been subjected to a sustained media campaign of conjecture about their involvement in Republican activity. Whilst lurid tabloid coverage is nothing new to Republicans this campaign was an altogether more sinister one as it was clearly being directed and controlled from Special Branch HQ in Harcourt street. Stories were planted in the media with the assistance of several well known crime “journalists”. The role of these journalists in inciting violence on the streets of Dublin is well known. The most notorious, if only for his prose is Paul Williams. Williams who holds no qualifications in journalism has survived and thrived thanks largely to his family connections to the Gardai. His immediate family include members of the special branch. His parasitic relationship with the Gardai relies on a mutual dependency. Williams is fed stories which he duly embellishes and ensures that certain Garda senior brass are given special mention in whatever book or article it is that he is pushing. In return Williams is guaranteed privileged access to the holy grail of crime journalism. The “security source”.

It is important to note that it has been for over 6 years an offence for a member of An Garda Siochana to pass information to a journalist. When minister for justice Michael MacDowell outlawed the practice following a series of embarrassing leaks which undermined his credibility. Despite this it is regular practice for privileged journalists to be granted access to information in return for printing uncritical pieces about the gardai.

Williams and other hacks began to print stories about Alan because they were being instructed to. A known drug dealer who claimed that he had been intimidated by Alan was informed by Williams that unless he testified he would be murdered by the RIRA.

Whatever the semantic debates about ethics in journalism there is no doubt that this type of behaviour is beyond the pale. Williams duly ran an exclusive interview with the individual making no mention of his previous conviction for importing cocaine.

Other journalists followed suit and soon Alan was a regular feature of the Sunday tabloids. Not content with putting his life in danger they published pictures of his ex-partners home and mocked Alan for expressing outrage that this was putting his child’s life in danger. Paul Williams staged a “confrontation” with Alan outside the house under the protective gaze of a number of special branch officers. In the months preceding Alan’s murder the tabloids went into overdrive pushing the line that there was a vicious feud between the IRA and a drugs gang on the north side. Much speculation was heaped on supposed attacks linked to both sides and the role that Alan was supposedly playing in it. This was classic felon setting and was little better than pinning a target to Alan’s back for every drugs gang in Dublin.

Having completed their role in criminalizing and demonising Alan the time was ripe for the gardai to play their part in provoking and facilitating his murder. In the weeks before he was murdered the Special Branch were telling members of the 32CSM they arrested that “we wont be putting Alan back in jail we’re going to kill him”. For any dismissive of this type of remark it is important to remember that similar comments were made by the RUC in the six counties about people such as Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane who were later murdered by Loyalist gangs later found to be working hand in hand with the state. Alan was given numerous death threats in the months before his murder. Yet Paul Williams has claimed on national radio that he was aware of the plot to kill Alan 3 weeks prior to it occurring. If this is true then why has Williams not been arrested and questioned, if it is true then why was Alan not given a specific threat stemming from this information?

On the day of the murder Alan was meeting two of his friends from Sligo. Both of these men have stated that they were under heavy and regular surveillance from the Special Branch. Both men were stopped and searched by the gardai on their way to Dublin, the details of the car and occupants were then radioed in. It is clear that the gardai were aware from that morning if not before that Alan would be meeting with both men. Both men as well as others present in Donaghmede that afternoon have stated that all three were under surveillance in Dublin prior to them exiting the Ryan household.

The Donaghmede/Clongriffin area is home to a number of 32CSM activists whose homes are regularly raided, they are under almost constant surveillance and the area was regularly saturated with undercover as well as plainclothes gardai. Despite this a hit team was able to stay in the area and monitor Alan’s home and his movements for at least three days prior to the murder. They were able to murder Alan and make good their escape without running into any garda patrol. No Garda helicopter was put up following the shooting. The gardai took over ten minutes to arrive on the scene and the Special Branch officers who did arrive disgraced themselves by mocking Alan and remarking to his friends “The models dead now”.

Since his murder the information that has emerged about the drugs gang responsible would seem to further strengthen the case for garda collusion. Some of those suspected of involvement are long suspected garda informers given immunity for their crimes in return for information. This pattern will be familiar to any who have a knowledge of the relationship between Loyalist paramilitaries and the British security forces. It seems clear that a Drugs gang infiltrated by the gardai was encouraged by the media, facilitated by the gardai and allowed to murder Alan Ryan. There will no doubt be those sceptical as to whether the gardai would stoop to such levels, albeit individuals who have little knowledge of the ethics of the force in question!

For those who doubt that the gardai would allow or encourage such an incident they would do well to examine the behaviour of the gardai following the murder. The family and friends of Alan were subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment in the days following his murder. The Donaghmede area was saturated with gardai. The trusty “garda sources” briefed the media that Alan was an apolitical criminal. They made comments such as “he wont be missed”. The media saw fit to print pictures of Alan lying murdered in the street. These same publications would a month later find themselves in a moral dilemma over the morality of printing topless pictures of Kate Middleton!

Alan was given a Republican funeral with all the customary procedures for an IRA volunteer. This only proceeded due to the discipline and resolve shown by his comrades. It infuriated the establishment who decided it was the appropriate pretext for initiating the second stage of the plan. Following the murder of Alan the state have to date arrested 26 Republicans in connection with his funeral. Three face spurious charges with two men including one of Alan’s brother on remand in Portlaoise jail with no evidence being presented against them. What is clear is that the state intends to use Alan’s murder as a springboard from which to crush the Republican movement in the 26 counties.

Republicans across the 26 counties have been subjected to a sustained and unprecedented level of harassment. All of this is being done under the guise of investigating the funeral of Alan Ryan. It must be evident to even a hostile observer that the gardai have shown little interest in solving Alan’s murder. To date three people have been arrested with the gardai admitting that none are suspected of direct involvement. All three have been released without charge.

There are those who will ask to what end would the Free State collude indirectly with a criminal gang to murder Alan Ryan? The answer to that lies in the political significance of Alan as an individual and his role within the anti drugs efforts of the Republican movement. Alan was a prominent and well respected Republican and had an impeccable Republican pedigree. A teen member of the Fianna he progressed into the ranks of the IRA. He was an ex-POW and commanded respect in the wider Republican circle. He had built up a strong support base on the North side of Dublin. More importantly Alan was a strong supporter of unity amongst Republicans. He was also supportive of the unity moves being made by Republican militants. As such it must be highlighted Alan presented a pertinent threat to not only the Free State but to the British establishment in the six counties. The British security services had more than a passing interest in seeing Alan Ryan removed from the scene.

To the Free State establishment Alan was a headache. Despite the media campaign of criminalisation the ordinary people of Dublin continued to offer support to Alan. This was because the most effective rebuttal to claims of criminality was Alan’s lifestyle. He lived simply and frugally and this was common knowledge in his community. Likewise his effectiveness as an active service volunteer meant that the gardai were coming under increasing pressure to take him off the streets. They were unable to do so and with each passing month their inability to stop the growing strength of the IRA in Dublin was becoming a greater embarrassment to them.

The removal of Alan Ryan suited therefore the agenda of two states as well as mi5 and the gardai. However their proxy gunmen had their own agenda. Alan Ryan had crippled the drugs gangs in Dublin. The term gangs does not truly convey the nature of these organisations. These are essentially cartels with annual turnovers of millions of euros, access to high grade weaponry and given basically a free hand to operate by an incompetent and corrupt police force. The greatest threat to this business empire came from Alan and republicans. Encouraged by media distortions painting Alan as unconnected to the wider republican family these gangs were encouraged to begin to plan for his removal. Unlike him they would not be subject to draconian legislation or constant surveillance and harassment. They were the convenient vehicle for a state driven agenda.

Alan Ryan was set up to be murdered. His killers were allowed to gun him down and escape. They have not been subject to any serious effort to solve his murder. They roam the streets immune from prosecution until the day they will no doubt outgrow their usefulness.

There are many who will feel little sympathy for Alan perhaps feeling he should expect little more. They should ask themselves then how they feel about living in a state which allows one of its citizens to be murdered simply because his political beliefs are troublesome for them. How a state which exerts more effort into investigating shots fired over a coffin than the shots which murdered Alan can claim to stand for principles such as justice. They must question the role that a compliant media plays in peddling lies fed to them by the gardai.

Alan Ryan was murdered by a criminal gang. He was a political figure with a political agenda and importance. We are simply a group of his friends seeking the answers to the questions raised and looking for justice for the Ryan family.

Article reproduced with kind permission from the Frank Ryan society, Dublin.

Despite heavy Rain, People Rally To Free Support Irish Republican POWS

29 Oct

Despite heavy Rain, People Rally To Free  Irish Republican POWS
by JULIAN ICHIM

 

On Oct. 27th a dedicated crew of Anti Colonialist Working Group members and Supporters braved the rain and held an info picket outside of the British consulate from Toronto. Despite the fact that the office was closed an appointments cancelled due to the sit in the day before, we were told that some of us are banned from the property and must stay on the sidewalk. We were then greated by RCMP who asked for our flyers, which we said we wouldnt give to them due to the fact that paper is precious. Lead by the brave Darryl Richards, we handed between 250-400 flyers.

We were later joined by Toronto Friends of Sinn Fien who also had a statement condemning the illegal internment of Irish Republican Prisoners and strip searches and the need to push the internal process.

The day ended with news that Juliet Belmas, ex Guerrilla fighter with Direct action and film maker who was sentenced to over 20 years in jail in Canada for actions against the state in the early ’80’s sending messages of solidarity with Irish Republican Prisoners and POWS, particularly Marian Price.

ALL in All the day was a success and we will continue our strugglle until the prisoners are free

Todays sit in for IRISH POWS a success, tommorrow we return

26 Oct

by

Darryl Richardson
Today a few members of Anti-Colonialist Working Group led by Julian Ichim held a brief sit in at British Consulate in downtown Toronto. Upon arriving at the premises and finding the doors locked the group unfurled a banner demanding freedom for Marian Price in front of the office. They were immediately questioned by those inside the consulate about who Marian Price was. Before Julian could explain her case the conversation was interrupted by a consular staffer who made some rather uninformed statements i.e. Marian Price is a terrorist, Martin Corry is a murderer and that anyone who doesn’t like the North should just move to the Republic. This is exactly the insensitive Imperialist nonsense we were there protesting against.
Two other individuals not associated with the ACWG came later but were also denied entry to the Consulate. Shortly after security guards began showing up and demanding that we leave. We were told that the RCMP, OPP and TPS were all on their way. After deciding to leave it was learned that the consulate would be closed for the rest of the day and tomorrow the 27th which is the International Day of Solidarity with Irish Political Prisoner’s and a demonstration is planned for that day.

JDL, CDL and memories of organizing with Anti Racist Action

25 Oct

One of the first things that got me from being a book Marxist to an actual organizer was getting beat up by NAZIS in front of my highschool and no one doing anything about it. The 1990’s in KW was prime time for fascist and NAZI control of our streets. Wolfegang Grouge ran a group called the heritage from right out of European sound, with rallies speakers etc.. His slogan was be proud to be white. Holocaust deniers such as Zundel were always welcome guests and attacks on marginalized communities such as jewish activist Mona Zettler were very common (her house was firebombed).

At that point in time I felt that if I turned a blind eye to the violence it would go away, and if we simply ignored them they would eventually fade.

One day in front of my high school I was confronted by a NAZI who sieg hieled me, I told him to fuck off, he gave me a bootfucking and no one did anything. The next day, him and his friends showed up outside of my school with guns looking for me. I discovered this group that was forming called Anti Racist Action, whose mission statement was to stop fascist violence through direct action. I joined the next day.

At that point in time the NAZI’s seemed invincible, they ran many of the gangs, the drugs and greatly outnumber us organizationally, plus they were armed to the teeth. We started mobilizing our communities, exposing them and drawing links between suit and tie NAZIs like Zundel and street bonehead gangs that terrorized our streets. We also started political programing aimed at wiping out poverty free food programs and other such things to show that the economic solutions lied not with the fascists but rather by all poor people unifying to take what belongs to us, the wealth that is produced through exploitation etc. and the problems lie with capitalism.

Our work included clinic support, solidarity with Stoney Point and open battles with Nazis in the streets. Since I was seen as a organizor with ARA I was subject to many attacks by the fascists. They stormed into my work, where the boss threw me out to deal with them, killed my cat, kicked the shit out me (literally I had to walk home with shit in my pants), Jumped me more times then i remember, followed my little brother from school, threatened my then girlfriend, targeted my friends and my house etc.

Yet by doing what we were doing eventually we won the hearts and minds of the downtown community and chased them out. through this battle many people thought we were setting ourselves up for failure and we would lose, get hurt or killed and while the second part definitely happened quite a bit, we defiantly won.

Looking at some of the threats and attacks on me for, a callout i didnt even write but simply posted on my blog, I am reminded of the tactics that these Zundelites have used in the past and cant help but draw a parallel. The JDL and CDL both profess the idea of racial supremacy by attacking and seeking to wipe out the Muslim population from Canada and Isreal. By using fancy slogans like Zundel did they hide their true intent and meaning which is racist one nation politics. To achieve their aims they will resort to violence against those groups that they target and all those that reject their agenda. The reason why they chose my blog as a target as opposed to others who put up this callout is irrelevant. I have seen these tactics before and know what happened of these sorts of politics remain unopposed, they will not go away but spread in our community making all those who dont agree with there fascist agendas victims of their violence.

Those who have critized me for not taking down this callout because I have put myself at risk should realive that the family of OMAR KHADR didnt put out any callout yet they were targetted, nor did any victims of the JDLS bombing or assasinations. The only way to deal with facists to through confronting them and not letting them take roots in our community. I fully endorse the callout and askk all people to unify and not let facism spread its roots in our community. Together we will win!!!

Fundraiser for my legal costs at the 460 this Monday Cancelled, OPPOSE THE JDL!!!

24 Oct

The Fundraiser/political discussion on nationwrecking and criminalization of dissent here that was suppose to take place this mondy at 7 is cancelled. Though I am seriously indebt from fighting legal charges and do need these transcripts recent targetting of my blog by JDL for posting a callout for an event to oppose the JDL’s agenda on the same date and time has made it quite clear to me and other organizors that as revolutionarys and anti colonialists our first obligation is to our comrades that are brutalizaed and targettted in the third world, particularly by zionists and colonialists such as the JDL. I ask all those who were going to comeout to my fundraiser to instead attend the picket opposing the JDL!!!!

Here is the link to the post!!!

https://julianichim.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/resist-zionist-facist-organizing/

Random thoughts of Mandy Hiscocks in Vanier Correctional Centre

24 Oct

random musings – september
Published by mandyon Mon, 2012-10-22 07:43mandy’s blog
september 8, 2012

laundry day!

on this unit we’re issued clothes, bedding and towels on arrival and they’re ours to keep for the duration of our stay. twice a week we have the opportunity to wash them – everything except the blankets, which are exchanged once a month. laundry days for my wing (C) are tuesdays and saturdays, and this is how it works: we line up our laundry bags along a wall in the common room, and shortly after breakfast a guard calls “LAUNDRY!” over the loudspeaker. there are four washers and four driers so we work through the line four at a time, with switchovers happening every 45 minutes or so. the laundry room is in the basement. a guard at the desk keeps track of who comes down, and two laundry workers (inmates) supervise the process. this is to make sure people aren’t washing blankets or pillows, or using cold water or short cycles or half-load settings (as always, Vanier doesn’t care about conserving water or energy), or using shampoo. Tide is available off canteen, and Bounce sheets, but jail issue detergent is available for those who need it.

this is all very different from Unit 2. on maximum security dirty clothes, towels and bedding are replaced with clean ones on a not-always-regular schedule. “clothing exchange” happens twice a week (well it’s supposed to but doesn’t always, due to delays, shortages or the guards not feeling like monitoring it) during one of the daily lockups. the guard opens the hatch in your cell door, you throw out your dirty items, one range worker picks them up while another takes your order and then brings you back clean stuff. (you have to hope they’ve got what you need because otherwise you end up with nothing or stuff that doesn’t fit – unlike Unit 4 with its well-stocked room down in the basement, Unit 2 often runs out). the only thing you don’t throw out the hatch is underwear – that gets washed in the sink along with socks. there are never enough socks for a clean pair every day unless you hand wash them. if it’d been a while since the last clothing exchange i’d wash my t-shirts in the sink, too. it’s not ideal because there’s nowhere in the cell to hang them properly and not all guards let you dry them over the upper tier railing. as well when i left Unit 2 Tide was no longer available off canteen for inmates there – why? nobody knows – so we were all forced to use shampoo or soap or body wash. apparently there used to be laundry facilities on maximum security until a piece of metal went missing from one of the machines. there used to be access to bathtubs, too, until one inmate tried to drown another (so the story goes, anyway). so no more bathtubs on Unit 2, and the dirty laundry all gets tossed into a cart and wheeled over to Maplehurst, where it’s washed by the guys. suckers.

september 10, 2012

i just came back from a “professional visit” with a lawyer. because these visits are in a room with no glass divider separating us and the lawyer’s allowed to bring stuff in, there’s always a strip-search afterwards. this time i got the cranky guard. i was being friendly – i’m in a particularly good mood these days, i guess i still high thanks to my newfound freedoms and privileges – so her snarky, disdainful manner and her unprovoked rudeness really offended me. now why is that? i’ve grown a pretty thick skin in here, it’s been awhile since i’ve cared about being treated like dirt for no reason – i adjusted to that pretty quickly, actually – so why do i feel so unfairly disrespected now? Unit 4 must be getting to me. . .

i always used to wonder why people from Unit 3 and 4 would chat with guards and each other on our way down the hall to a visit, while those of us from maximum security were completely silent and stared straight ahead. now i’m starting to understand. i’m getting used to the guards being around (not behind glass) and while it was weird and uncomfortable at first, i’m getting used to them making conversation. they talk to us more because we’re in the same space. when they come onto the wing they don’t have to have a guard on backup, radio at the ready, eyes locked on them at all times. they don’t pat us down before we go to yard. generally speaking, the procedures here don’t make it seem like we’re always being suspected of something, like we’re always on the verge of violence.

i didn’t really notice how the atmosphere on Unit 2 was affecting me until i came here, like a weight that i couldn’t really feel until it was lifted.

even now i find that i can’t really put my finger on what exactly makes this unit so different. the interactions with the guards are part of it – but that can’t be all. when i try to explain it to people on the outside the differences sound small and a bit silly: the window opens! we’re allowed to have tape! i can stay up until 9pm! even though i never watch them, there are movies in the basement! they don’t lock the cleaning solution away! see what i mean? but put them all together and they do make a difference in how i feel: i feel more like a person. more like a person and less like an annoyance, or worse, a potential threat that has to be kept in check at all times. i’ve always wondered why prisoners fight so hard, to the point of hunger striking and rioting at huge risk to themselves, for things that seem insignificant in the context of the huge injustice that is incarceration. now i think i get it: the little things affect how we see ourselves. every right, every small freedom that’s taken away, strips us of a little more of our dignity; every one that’s granted or restored brings a little of it back.

september 11, 2012

today we had a moment of silence for 9/11. i was trapped in the common room when they called it over the loudspeaker so i just had to stand there fuming. when it was over, i crankily said “so we’ll be having another one now, for all the people the Americans kill?” – that was met by confused stares all around. i wish i’d had this poem handy.

@ @ @

someone just came walking around the unit with a couple of guards – i think it was a health and safety inspection. i looked up at the ceiling where they were pointing as one of them said “yeah, that’s bad.” black mould – lots of it! NICE.

september 12, 2012

i used the Access: Defence phone today. Access: Defence is a teleconferencing system that allows lawyers (and only lawyers) to call us here at the jail. they book a time slot of either 15 or 35 minutes, a guard informs us by giving us a Teleconference Appointment Sheet, and at the scheduled time we go to the Access: Defence phone, pick up the receiver and dial in our code. it’s a good system. the regular phones on the unit are often in high demand and there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to make a legal call at a pre-determined time. there’s also the complication of all outgoing calls being collect and only working if you’re calling a landline. it can be really difficult to catch lawyers at the office! finally, there’s a “secure” option that makes the call confidential (not sure if i 100% believe that, but that’s what they say) whereas the regular phones are tapped.

i’ve been wondering lately what those phone taps involve, exactly. how many, if any, of our conversations are actually listened to? there are a lot of phones here and they are in use for a large part of the day – i can’t imagine they’re all being monitored. so i’m guessing they’re being recorded and played back selectively. which begs the question, who else is given access to them? and how long are they kept? hmm… sketchy. i should look into this.

september 15, 2012

i realize that i still haven’t described my new surrounding to you. i’ll try to do that now.

you enter Unit 4 from the hallway that leads to Unit 2 and 3, the visiting area, and Admissions and Discharge (A +D), you can either go upstairs or downstairs, Unit 4 is not wheelchair accessible. let’s go upstairs first, since it’s where i spend most of my time.

on your left, right inside the door, is the nurse’s station. at the top of the stairs in the rotunda, and as you enter it you’re looking at a team of guards sitting at a desk at the opposite wall. to your left along the wall there are four phones and four stools, to your right as well. upon arrival we were told that the rotunda is the guards space – we are not to enter it without permission. this means that every time we want to use the phone we have to get a guard’s attention and ask (this is a bit of a pain in the ass, but it does prevent the line jumping and bullying that happens on Unit 2 where the guards don’t give a shit who is or isn’t getting a turn). behind the guard desk is the bubble, in which yet another guard works the door, announces things over the loudspeaker, and – i assume – watches what the cameras are picking up.

so that’s the rotunda. it’s where we get personal and cleaning supplies, hand in request forms, ask questions.

okay. so now walk past the row of phones on your left, and on to C-D side. had you gone to the right you’d be entering A-B side. but don’t bother, the layout is exactly the same. Vanier likes symmetry.

now you are in C-D common space. there’s a mailbox, a sink, a tv, movable tables and chairs, a box of board games, and two bulletin boards covered with colouring book pictures from inmates long gone.

if you walk straight ahead you’ll pass C-wing’s washroom (toilets, showers, a tub, shitty mirrors, and way too many sinks) on your way to the wing itself. C-wing is a long hallway with 13 single rooms on either side. it sticks out form the common area, heading north. had you turned left at the entrance to C-side/D-side, you would has passed by an identical washroom and a cleaning closet before entering D-wing’s identical hallway, which jets out to the west. across the rotunda on A-B side the wings point south and east, so that they all branch out at 90 degrees from each other. it’s all quite orderly.

the capacity is 104 inmates, but i’ve never seen that many people. i don’t think my wing has ever been more that three quarters full which is good, because it can get pretty loud in here at times. one last thing: the wings are actually referred to as alpha, bravo, charlie and delta. i’m not kidding.

so that’s the upstairs. now let’s go to the basement! go out the rotunda, down the steps, past the nurses station and the main door and the door to the yard, down some more steps. a guard sitting at the basement desk will direct you to where you need to go. off of the main area there is an office for people to meet one on one (for example with a social worker, or a rep from Elizabeth Fry, or a treatment centre, and so on). there’s also the library, the laundry room, storage rooms, inmate and staff washrooms, and some staff offices. the main area has some tables, and some stools bolted to the floor. but most of it is empty space that can be used for fitness classes or weekend movie screenings. two hallways stretch out from this area, they have larger rooms that are used for programs or yoga or to store extra library books in.

there. that’s the grand tour. I hope you feel a bit more oriented in my little world now. 🙂

september 27, 2012

i was just informed that some incoming mail has been sent to security, “just to make sure it’s okay for you to have it.” intriguing! apparently it was from somebody doing research into prison-related issues who wants to speak with me about Vanier. yes, i can see how that is a security concern.

last week it was a copy of the Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar that was deemed inappropriate and withheld.

the whole situation with the mail is outrageous, when you think about it. a stranger opens it, reads it, then decides whether or not to interfere with the delivery of all or part of it. on the road that’s a criminal offence! there are real problems with this system – other than the obvious ones, i mean. sometimes letters that are sent to security don’t make it back for quite some time, for one thing. more importantly, although the policy states that if mail is withheld the inmate has to be notified, their idea of “notification” is usually completely uninformative: “withheld: letter. Date: 27 Sep/2012.” great, no name, no address, no reason. . .thanks. sometimes we aren’t notified at all – i have a feeling that happens quite a lot. i’m a bit excited, and a bit scared, to think of all the stuff i don’t know about accumulating in my property bag.

the other really bothersome thing is that jail keeps a log of the names and addresses of everyone who writes to me and everyone i write to. does that creep you out? it should.

september 28, 2012

this is my new favourite jail snack: eat two servings of canned pineapples but save the juice. separate the tops and bottoms of two raisin bran muffins. crumble the bottoms into the juice and let them soak while you eat the tops. eat the mush slowly with a spoon.

i actually get quite excited when i can make this.

i need to get out more.

october 6, 2012

i have a lot to be thankful for.

i thank the Earth, who continues to feed, clothe and shelter us – even though we treat her terribly and don’t deserve it.

i thank all the Indigenous People of Turtle Island, whose land has been and continues to be taken by force, coercion and deceit; but who are still willing to discuss how we can share and live well together. i thank them for believing, against all evidence, that the rest of us are capable of it.

i thank the rebels, the radicals and the revolutionaries past, present and future for fighting for justice and freedom and for giving me hope and inspiration.

i thank those who have struggled and continue to struggle against prisons and for the rights of prisoners, from inside and outside the walls. without them our daily lives in here would be much, much worse.

and i thank my family and my community, my friends and my allies, for teaching me about love and courage and solidarity, and for all their support.