Today, August 10th 2019, marks the 45th year that folks have globally resisted the violent and oppressive prison system by honouring Prisoners’ Justice Day. We’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous People of Colour) folks are disproportionately impacted by the justice system and face higher rates of incarceration and police violence. This comes as no surprise since prison systems were created to uphold white supremacy and colonization and continue to do so today.
Violence from police and the prison system is often painted as an American problem, but the routine incarceration and criminalization of queer, trans and racialized folks is all too common in so-called “Canada” as well. Recently, in Hamilton, queer and trans folks were arrested for defending pride from far-right protesters. Justice for Inmates (a group of folks calling for justice for family members who have passed away in prison) walked from London, Ontario to Queen’s Park in May to protest a string of recent deaths. Toronto South Detention Centre is disconnecting families even more by making visitations digital (via video call) and organizations such as JPAY (an online method of writing letters to folks in prison) continues to increase its prices. Trans folks are consistently kept in solitary confinement, Indigenous folks across Turtle Island are faced with jail time when protecting their traditional territories, and Black folks are persistently met with higher rates of carding, police brutality, and incarceration.
We are also in scary times with the state of immigration detention and ICE raids. Border camps and detention centres are packed well beyond capacity with folks simply seeking safety (often from violence fueled by North American governments) and are kept in horrendous conditions that have resulted in the deaths of dozens of youth and adults--Some only mere days after being brought to the detention centers. Just a few days ago, ICE carried out the largest raids in its (relatively short) history - stealing 680 people from their homes and places of employment.
All of these forms of state violence must end, and we all play a role in making that happen.
We at LSPIRG encourage you to get informed and take action!
Movies: Visions of Abolition From Critical Resistance to a New Way of Life, 13th (documentary on Netflix)
Events: Prisoner Justice Day, Rally and March in Hamilton, Tattoo Fundraiser for the Barton Prisoner Solidarity Project, Prisoner Justice Day in Toronto, Whorestories: #FreeMoka Edition
Books: Are Prisons Obsolete by Angela Davis, Freedom is a constant struggle by Angela Davis, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness by Michelle Alexander, Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex by Nat Smith, Policing Black Lives by Robyn Maynard
Organizations: Prisoner Correspondence Project (linking up queer and trans folks outside of prison with those inside to be pen pals), Community Justice Initiatives