For the eighth consecutive year, anarchists in Southern Ontario gathered to ring in the new year with a series of noise demos outside prisons in the area. We do this to demonstrate our opposition to the prison system and the world that maintains it, and to remind those on the inside that they are not forgotten.
We started our night off at the Niagara Detention Centre – an institution known for extreme overcrowding, inmate suicide, and hunger striking migrants. In the pouring rain, a crowd of 35 people gathered and marched along the perimeter of the prison. A full marching band in balaclavas played, while others set off fireworks and chanted. A handful of screws tried rushing us off the property but were met with insults and disregard as we finished our loop and left without incident.
From there we headed to Hamilton’s downtown Barton Jail, where our numbers doubled. Infamous for particularly egregious conditions, the prison was recently in the news for losing its heat for weeks in the middle of a cold spell. Stories circulated of temperatures dropping so low that water was freezing in the cells and inmates were forced to wear socks on their arms in attempts to stay warm.
An annual stop for our noise demo tradition, this year we wanted to make more of an effort to communicate with those on the inside. We produced a short video and using a handheld projector played it on loop on the side of a building visible from inside the jail. Prisoners were seen cupping their eyes, looking out their windows to read the messages on the wall.
Balaclavas, fireworks, and paint bombs were distributed before we started, and year after year people have come to expect this and join in on the fun. The prison and prisoner transport vans were covered in paint, people chanted and held banner that said “Turn up the Heat” and after a ton of fire works were lit, we left on our own terms.
Against prisons and its world,