A fist against the concrete
From Against Prison
What follows is an incomplete compilation of this year’s noise demonstrations against prison and in solidarity with prisoners around the world. These demonstrations exist as a tradition for many anarchist or social combatants and have gathered some momentum in North America over the past handful of years.
While we see strength in the sharing of struggle and solidarity with other comrades and prisoners on these days of action, we also recognize a failure in our ability to organize ourselves on a similar scale in solidarity with the hunger strikes and struggles of imprisoned comrades at other times of the year. We are talking specifically about the past collective struggles of Gabriel Pombo da Silva, Marco Camenisch, Jose Fernadez Delgado, Axel Osorio, Juan Carlos Rico, Sergio María Stefani, Francesco Porcu, Matías Castro, Amadeu Casellas Ramón, Christos Stratigopoulos, Panagiota Roupa, Nikos Masiotis, etc. The list gets longer year after year...
Even in Canada, prisoners have engaged in work strikes, hunger strikes, and struggles within the prisons; some of these prisoners are comrades of ours [we refer to the segregation of Alex Hundert] and others we have never met [such as the regular refusals of cooperation by prisoners in the Millhaven Institution]. In any case, our responses to these and other expressions of resistance behind bars have been minimal and isolated.
Is it the tradition, and thus reoccurrence, of our days of action (New Year’s Eve and Prisoner Justice Day) that gives us the time to spread information, plan, and act? Do prisoner uprisings and calls to action for our comrades happen too quickly for us to respond? Are the organizational methods and strategies we employ even capable of responding to these situations? And if they aren’t, is it not time we rethink and redevelop the ways we organize ourselves to act?
We would like to see more discussion on our responses to the rapid changing conditions inside the prisons, and concrete actions emerging from them. This compilation of actions and analysis hopes to inspire some form of dialogue.
A call for action against prison on New Year’s Eve
[Unknown translation, edited by Against Prison]
New-years-eve to the prisons!
Everywhere to the deportation and detention centers!
Noise demonstrations in front of prisons are an ongoing tradition in many places around the world in order to remember those who are detained by the state. They are a way of showing solidarity with the people who are imprisoned. We come together in front of prisons and deportation centers; where people who face deportation, have no status or the wrong status, are imprisoned; to break the loneliness and isolation.
This prison system cannot be reformed because its whole existence is wrong. Here and everywhere.
It doesn’t create “better people” or help to solve social conflicts. The ruling system of competition and inequity detains people and deports them. On the one hand to get rid of everything “problematic,” on the other hand to frighten those who desperately search for freedom.
Whether humans are imprisoned because of stealing or destroying private property, dodged the fare or fled in fear of prosecution in their home country – everything is based on the same criteria: the existing world, defined by the ruling norms tells us what’s wrong and right, what has to be protected and what is to be punished.
Laws and rules were made by a few and, under them, everyone has to knuckle down. This logic of penalty and detention has to be destroyed. For us the destruction of all prisons is only possible in a process which overthrows the ruling condition, to create a world without exploitation and oppression.
Wherever you are, meet on New Year’s Eve at the prisons, to be loud and to express the idea of a free world without domination, in the streets.
We want to use our solidarity and mutual aid to tear down the walls, stone by stone.
We want a world without walls and borders.
We will fight together: until everyone is free!
anarchist and autonomous individuals and groups
Action reports below:
December 31st 2012
Napanee, Ontario - About a dozen anarchists and friends gathered for a noise demo outside of Quinte Detention Centre. There was chanting and fireworks were launched into the air as an expression of solidarity with those incarcerated at Quinte and of rage at the existence of the prison and all prisons everywhere.
Montreal, Quebec – 50 people held noise demonstrations at Tanguay Prison and Bordeaux Prison. There was chanting, banners, leaflets, and fireworks.
“The state is currently spending an estimated $4 million building 22 new prisons and expanding many of the existing ones across the country, while also passing new laws like Bill C-10 and C-38, which seek to put more people in prison for longer and ensure the mandatory detention of refugees”
Vancouver, British Columbia - A dozen anarchists held a noise demonstration at the Burnaby Youth Detention Centre. Many fireworks were shot in the direction of the jail, and people banged on pots and pans. Messages were yelled towards the prisoners, supportive messages to the prisoners and the opposite to the guards.
“There is no hope in [prison] reform, and while it may seem like an impossible task, we fight to dismantle the prison industrial complex that bathes the rich in money and locks up the poor”
Portland, Oregon (USA) – Noise demonstration at the Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Center.
“This is in response to the international call-out for noise demos and other actions against prisons, jails, and detention centers on New Year's Eve”
Seattle, Washington (USA) – 40 people made noise outside the federal prison in Seatac. The prison houses the three grand jury resistors Katherine Olejnik, Matt Duran, and Matt Pfeiffer as well as hundreds of other prisoners. Noise was made by a sound system, people banging on pots and pans, and fireworks. Lights in certain cells flicked on and off.
Chicago, Illinois (USA) – Noise demonstration held at the Cook County Jail. One person arrested from the demonstration.
Manhattan, New York (USA) – 60 to 200 people held a noise demo outside the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in downtown Manhattan. They made used noisemakers, voices, air horns, and other instruments to make noise. A Banner read “burn the prison society.”
“Let's make 2013 a terrifying year for capitalists and state operatives the world over and a joyous year for those seeking the triumph of life over death”
Oakland, California (USA) - 200 people gathered at Oscar Grant Plaza in Downtown Oakland for the second annual NYE noise demo at the North County jail. There were speeches, a brief musical performance, and a march to the jail. There were banners. Fireworks were shot into the sky and at police, who were the target of paintbombs, bottles, and other objects. The jail was also the target of paint attacks.
“It is our hope that William Bratton (newly appointed OPD police consultant) understands that he has now accepted the task of being the supreme apologist and advisor for one of the most racist and despicable police agencies in the US”
Durham, North Carolina (USA) – About 50 people held a demonstration at the jail in downtown Durham. There were banners, black flags, drummers, people banging on pots and pans, and numerous banners. People chanted and launched fire kites (three-foot tall hot air “balloons”) into the air.
“We recognize that this demo was a small gesture, but we hope that it helped raise the spirits of those struggling inside the Durham jail, as it helped to increase our own morale and dedicate 2013 to a fierce fight against State and Capital”
Angers, France (EU) – Three explosive and bright charges were ignited at the three corners of the Angevin prison.
“We shared the feeling of a breach of normality in this society which isolates, along with some shouts, which were exchanged over the walls. A bit of light, a bit of noise, a bit of smoke, and a lot of rage…”
Paris, France (EU) – A few dozen people marched on the Detention Centre of Vincennes. They threw firecrackers, launched fireworks, and yelled slogans into the air.
“Freedom for all, with or without Status!”
Fresnes, France (EU) – Several groups of people launched mortar-style fireworks around the prison of Fresnes near Paris.
“Because freedom does not exist ‘outside the walls’ as long as there are prison walls”
Helsinki, Finland (EU) – 20 people held a demonstration at the Metsälä detention center. They expressed solidarity with the people inside, imprisoned because of their origins, by making noise outside the fences with drums, vuvuzelas, fireworks, and their voices. They managed to exchange contact information with a few of the prisoners. One of them said he was kept in detention for six months without any contact to the outside.
“Solidarity with migrants! No borders! No nations!”
Amsterdam, Holland (EU) – A group of people went to make noise at the new location of the Schiphol deportation prison (Amsterdam). It is an international tradition on New Year’s Eve to go to the prisons to break the silence and isolation.
“In the new Schiphol prison ‘De Poort’ over 1,000 people will be locked up. Even more cells for a murderous system. Last night, recorded messages from the RefugeeChurch —a squatted church inhabited by illegal (undocumented) people in Amsterdam— were broadcasted for the people inside”
Cardiff, Wales (UK) – A group of anarchists and anti-authoritarians assembled at Cardiff prison. Some of them set off fireworks and scattered hundreds of fliers from the top of the multi-storey car park opposite the jail (which is visible from many of the cells in the prison) whilst others sounded a siren, banged drums, threw fireworks over the wall of the prison and participated in anti-prison and anti-police chants with the prisoners, who did everything they could to communicate back to the crowd gathered outside.
“Fire to the prisons, fire to the borders, and fire to those who protect the system that’s killing us all. A.C.A.B.”
Patras, Greece (EU) – About 30 people gathered outside the prison of Agios Stefanos. Fireworks were popped-off and a fire was lit outside.
“The passion for freedom is stronger than all prisons!”
Lamièon, Greece (EU) – About 60 people held a demonstration at the Larissa Prison in the district of Lamièon. Smoke bombs were ignited and slogans were chanted to break the monotony of prison.
“Το πάθος για τη λευτεριά είναι δυνατότερο απ'όλα τα κελιά”
Athens, Greece (EU) – Large demonstration at Korydallos prison in Athens. For the past 7-8 years anarchists have gathered on new years’ eve to remind those imprisoned on the inside that they are not alone.
"When all others celebrate, we remember those that others want to forget"
Sherwood, Nottingham (UK) – 30 people held a demonstration at Nottingham prison to show solidarity with the people being held inside. They marched the perimeter of the fence with a sound-system, banging pots and pans against the side of the fence, chanting and shouting, whilst setting off fireworks.
“The prison system is a brutal and violent means of repression and control by the state that needs to be challenged and resisted in our struggle for freedom. Noise demos are just one small way of breaking the isolation that prisoners are subjected to, letting them know that they are not forgotten.”
Brixton, London (UK) – A few people dressed in black, held banners and marched on the Brixton Prison. They shouted “freedom” outside the prison and shoot fireworks into the air.
“Fire to the prisons, fuck the police!”
Islington, London (UK) – 100 people held a noise protest at the Holloway Prison for women and young offenders' unit. They held banners and handed out leaflets to pedestrians. There was music and chanting, and people blew whistles and banged on pots and pans as they marched around the prison. Speeches were made and the noise demonstration ended 2 hours later.
“Freedom for political prisoners”
Moscow, Russia (EU) – A demonstration was held at Pre-trial Detention Center No. 5, also known as “Vodnik.” Fireworks and flares were shot into the air and a banner reading “destroy all prisons” was carried throughout the demonstration.
“We find accusatory cries against the judicial system or police brutality to be unsustainable. We see the solution in the total destruction of the stunted, obsolete, and repressive institutions… Be realistic, demand the impossible!”
Vienna, Austria (EU) – 60 people gathered outside the 5th largest prison in Austria, Simmering Prison. They played music, chanted, made speeches, and shot fireworks.
“No justice, no peace - no prison, no police”
Basel, Switzerland (EU) – Around 30 people held a demonstration at the detention centre of Bässlergut. They brought a bullhorn, banners, torches, and fireworks. The prisoners responded and banged on the fence.
“We organize jail demonstrations in solidarity with the inmates and the other victims of racist and xenophobic state power”
Berlin, Germany (EU) – Over 200 demonstrated at the women's prison in Lichtenberg. They made speeches before marching around the jail. Later that evening, 500 people marched to a remand prison near Moabit. They chanted, made speeches, and shot fireworks.
“Fire to the prisons!”
Hamburg, Germany (EU) – About 200 people gathered at the deportation prison of Holstenglacis. They were equipped with banners, flares, and fireworks.
“We want to use our solidarity and mutual aid to break down these walls, brick by brick. We want a world without walls and boundaries”
Bremen, Germany (EU) – 70 people marched around the JVA Oslebshausen prison in Bremen. They played music and shot fireworks. Slogans were written in spray-paint on the prison walls.
“Fight law and order!”
Stuttgart, Germany (EU) – Large demonstration through the city of Stuttgart followed by a demonstration at a prison in Stammheim. Speeches were delivered along with a healthy dose of fireworks.
“For class struggle and revolution!”
Frankfurt, Germany (EU) – 300 people held a demonstration at the Preungesheim prison. They shot fireworks, chanted, made speeches, and played music.
“The state, the capitalists, the police: they can hate us, but they must also learn to fear us!”
Kiel, Germany (EU) – A handful of people gathered in front of the Faeschstraße prison. They spray-painted slogans on the prison and throughout the surrounding area. They expressed solidarity via megaphone and the explosion of fireworks.
“Freedom for all!”
January 11th 2013
Sherwood, Nottingham (UK) – A group carried out attacks on G4S security company. They slashed the tires, stripped the paint, and smashed the windows of two security vans in solidarity with individuals of Nottingham HMP and Elisa Di Bernardo.
“G4S are a global corporation which profits from the torture and caging of the working class throughout the world… For freedom, for friendship”
Bristol, England (UK) – Vehicles belonging to prison officers had their paint stripped and tires slashed.
“This small attack was done with all the caged animals & humans at the for-front of our minds”
January 14th 2013
Makassar, Indonesia – 3 ATMs of Bank Mandiri were attacked with incendiary devices. The walk-in units had their doors and windows blown out by the force of the explosion. One of the machines was totally destroyed, while another machine was also partially destroyed.
January 19th 2013
Toronto, Ontario – A group smashed and set fire to the street level of one of the many new condominium developments under construction in the city.
“Our anger is directed both towards the continuing, and celebrated, gentrification within the city, and the ongoing imprisonment of anarchist comrades around the world”
"Any struggle is carried out to make a claim when it doesn’t stop until the target is achieved. Any struggle is symbolic when one is aware one doesn’t have the power (individual as well as collective) to subvert the ruling System or attack small clogs of the latter.
In this case I’m struggling using my imprisoned body (besides my ideas it is the only instrument I have in this iron and concrete cage) because I want Marco [Camenisch] to live as a free man, to take him away from the clutches of the Swiss prison system, to be back with us in the mountains...
I have always believed that the hunger strike is an effective method of struggle both inside and outside the prison. An act of rebellion made within these armoured walls is little effective if there is nobody outside ready to echo it and spread it according to his/her imagination and determination.
I have always believed that a hunger strike is a powerful way of making pressure, and it is even more effective if it is coordinated between those who take part in it and those who support it, inside and outside the prison."
-Elisa Di Bernardo [see ‘Ideas for Discussion’ for the complete statement]