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Demo at GVI in Memory of Kinew James and Against the Prison System


Yesterday afternoon, two dozen people gathered on the perimeter of the
Grand Valley Institution (GVI), a women's prison in Kitchener, Ontario, to
show solidarity with the caged women inside, and to push for the
dissolution of the vile prison system of which it is apart. Using our
voices, metal pots, and a makeshift sound system, we drew the attention of
several inmates who called back to us through open windows. Befuddled
screws eventually came out to greet us and make boarish grunting noises as
we rattled and banged on their fence. Passing drivers honked their horns
in support of signs that read "Prison is a Crime" and "Justice for Ashley
Smith and Kinew James".

This rally was called in response to the ongoing abuse, neglect, and
murder of women who pass through its walls every year, most recently
manifest in the case of Kinew James. Just a few days ago Kinew James died
at a prison in Saskatoon. Until early November she had been at GVI, but
she was moved after she went public with allegations that guards were
sexually exploiting inmates. The day after she died, police announced that
her complaint would not result in any screws being charged.

Kinew's sentence had been extended several times while she was at GVI for
attacking guards and destroying jail property. She spent huge amounts of
time in solitary confinement, with very few privileges, in a manner very
similar to how Ashley Smith was treated before her death in 2007. The
public inquiry into Ashley's death is ongoing and offers a rare look into
the wretched world of GVI's max unit. It is also a glimpse into the
conditions that killed Kinew James.

While the Ashley Smith inquiry is going on, Corrections Services Canada
has been more active than usual in targeting women at GVI who speak up
about abuses. Kinew's brutal treatment and subsequent death are directly
linked to her non-cooperation with prison authorities and her refusal to
stay silent about the sexual exploitation of prisoners by guards.

Though these prison walls remain strong, we are working to thin them in
whatever way we can. We will continue to do so until they crumble to the
ground, until a world without prisons.

-Anonymous, Jan 29th 2013.


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