On the evening of July 9th, to express solidarity with the hunger strike at Pelican Bay and across California, 30 folks from Southern Ontario gathered in Kitchener for a noise demo at Grand Valley Institution for Women (GVI), a federal women’s prison. We marched with banners, chants, and balloons flapping in the winds to an area near GVI where we could see and communicate directly with folks imprisoned, many of whom were in the yard when we arrived.
Balloons with flyers about the situation in Pelican Bay were released over the grounds. Fireworks were set off, silencing the screws that approached. The screws attempted to try and calm down the excited prisoners in plain view on the grounds. As chants and speeches were yelled, the chain link barbed wire fence separating the two groups became much less significant, as the isolation was broken for a few minutes. Prisoners yelled and whooped along with the chants that included: NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, FUCK THE POLICE… SCREWS, PIGS, MURDERERS…FUCK ALL PRISONS, SMASH THE STATE, ALL THESE WALLS ARE GONNA BREAK and…NO PRISONS, NO BORDERS, FUCK LAW AND ORDER. After many fireworks, speeches, and chants the group decided to depart, but only after the folks inside proclaimed that they were on lock down and 5 cruisers arrived.
The demands of the prisoners at the Pelican Bay SHU were read, after which the prisoners at GVI responded with cheers. A part of the solidarity statement by Corcoran prisoners was read. A statement was read in support of Nyki Kish, a woman locked up at GVI. “FREE NYKI KISH” was chanted.
Nyki is an artist, musician and community activist from Hamilton who was recently convicted of 2nd degree murder and sentenced to 12 years in prison. In 2007 a street altercation in Toronto left one person stabbed to death. The State politicized the case, using the violence as a justification for further crackdowns on poor people. Nyki maintains her innocence, and was convicted on March 1, 2011, with no evidence other than that she was there and she was stabbed. She is currently in the max unit at GVI, awaiting the appeal process.
Solidarity and love to Nyki Kish, prisoners on strike at Pelican Bay, and prisoners in struggle for dignity everywhere!