Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Prisoners Justice Day Press Release (Montreal)

On August 10th, 1974, Eddie Nalon bled to death in a solitary confinement unit at Millhaven Maximum Security Prison near Kingston,Ontario when the emergency call button in his cell failed to work. An inquest later found that the call buttons in that unit had been deactivated by the guards.

Prisoners at Millhaven marked the anniversary of Eddie's death by fasting and refusing to work. By May, 1976, the call buttons had not yet been repaired.

Bobby Landers was the next to die in one of those cells. With no way to call for help, all he could do was scribble a note that described the symptoms of a heart attack. The call for national support went out and Prison Justice Day began.

What started as a one time event behind the walls of Millhaven Prison has become an international day of solidarity. On this day, August 10th, prisoners around the world fast, refuse to work, and remain in their cells while those of us on the outside organize to show our solidarity with those struggling behind the bars, to show that they are not forgotten and to draw attention to the conditions inside prisons.

This year will mark its 27th year in existence. Here in Montreal, some of us have formed a Prisoners Justice Day Committee, which will be organizing events on August 8th, 9th and 10th. We have received material support from Q-PIRG Concordia, and the events are a co-presentation with CKUT 90.3 FM.

On August 8th and 9th there will be two cultural-political evenings at the Sala Rossa, at 4848 Boulevard St-Laurent.

The first evening, starting at 8pm on the 8th, will feature five musical acts in a wide range of musical styles DJ Lynne T (Elektrolysis CKUT), La Jeunesse Apatride, 1-Speed Bike, Ark of Infinity and F.B.I. Jedeyez and many speakers who will expose and denounce how the prison system impacts various groups, including First Nations peoples, refugees and immigrants in detention centers, sex trade workers and, of course, prisoners themselves. This event will be MC'd by former prisoners. There will be a cover charge on a sliding scale of $6 to $10.

On August 9th, also starting at 8pm at the Sala Rossa, there will be a video night with DJ Static and Aum Supreme. Video interviews with prisoners, about prisons and prison struggles, will be shown. There will also be information tables from many different organizations exposing the different repressive and oppressive facets of the prison system, prisoner rights activists and former prisoners will be attending. This event will have no cover charge, although donations will be solicited.

The proceeds from these events will go to two groups. The first is the "Justice for Joe David Committee". Joe David was a Mohawk Warrior at the Siege of Oka in 1990. In 1999, he was shot in the back by Kanasetake Mohawk Police, which caused him permanent paralysis: he is now quadriplegic, and needs funds for both medical and legal expenses (he is involved in a civil suit against the police).

The second half of the proceeds for this benefit will go to the group ContinuitZ-famille aupr?s des dZtenues et ex-dZtenues. The CFAD helps mothers in prison by arranging trailer visits to unite mothers with their children. CFAD also helps many mothers after their release or when they are in half-way houses, providing a place where they can work, share and be listened to.

On August 10th there will be six hours of special radio programming on CKUT 90.3 FM, featuring interviews with former prisoners and information about prisons in Canada and internationally.

The programming will begin with a description of how Prisoners Justice Day began as well as an in-depth interview with two prisoners rights activists who will discuss deaths in prison and what is a life sentence.

Also, there will be interviews with former prisoners who will discuss everything from the difficulties for prisoners to get a fair parole hearing to psychological abuses committed by Correctional Services Canada and much more. This first part of the programming will be in English and the second half will be in French.

Also tune into CKUT during the week leading up to Prisoners Justice Day and you will hear other prison-related interviews, including interviews with prisoners. For more information, or to listen online, go to CKUT. FM

No photographic or video cameras will be allowed at either event. The benefit on August 8th starts at 8pm sharp (door open at 7:30pm).

For more information visit the Montreal Prisoners Justice Day Committee website at:
Prisoners' Justice Day
La Journée pour les Droits des PrisonnierEs Montréal 2003If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at pjd_mtl@hotmail.com

By Justice Action posted 22 July 03


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