Caravan demonstrates outside Maple Ridge prisons

Two rural jails are latest to see protesters calling for release of inmates amid COVID pandemic

  • Apr. 26, 2020 11:50 a.m.

A caravan of vehicles is expected outfront of Maple Ridge’s two provincial prisons within minutes.

It’s a convoy of demonstrators calling for the release of inmates because of COVID-19.

The group, headed up locally by Vancouver Prison Justice Day committee member Meenakshi Mannoe, is expected to hold #FreeThemAllCaravan action outside Fraser Regional Correctional Centre and in response to growing concern about COVID-19 in prisons across Canada.

It’s part of a protest happening today, coast to coast, Mannoe said. It will involve driving past “sites of confinement and hold online caravans to demand freedom for prisoners and migrant detainees subject to the violence of the Canadian carceral state during the pandemic,” she said Sunday morning, just ahead of the demonstration.

READ MORE: Federal prison tensions rise amid COVID lockdowns; activists want releases

Participating groups and individuals are demanding prisoner releases, competent release planning on the part of governments, community supports such as transitional housing – where required – and a universal basic income that’ll position those being diverted and decarcerated from custody to live in security during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis, she explained.

“Today’s multi-city event continues the work of last Sunday’s #FreeThemAllCaravan organized by Solidarity Across Borders because, while significant carceral population reductions have occurred in places like Nova Scotia, where there’s still more work to be done, other jurisdictions have remained stuck in the mud, elevating the risk of incarcerated people to COVID-19 exposure,” she said.

RELATED STORY: COVID-19 is not a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card,’ says B.C. judge

Advocates have been sounding the alarm about the risks posed to prisoners since the pandemic took hold in Canada more than a month ago. Yet, according to Mannoe and others, the federal government has ignored these calls.

“As the federal government was busy examining its options and ignoring the advice of experts, advocates, and community-based service providers that have spent their lives getting and keeping people safely out of state custody, COVID-19 took hold in places like Mission Institution,” she added.

“In recent days, we’ve learned of a case where CSC [Correctional Service of Canada] released a prisoner from Mission without a plan to self-isolate locally for 14 days in transitional housing, to ensure he didn’t have the coronavirus, before safely transporting him to his home community to execute his longer-term re-entry plan. While we all watch the crisis unfold in federal prisons, including at Mission – where more than 100 prisoners have now tested positive for COVID-19 – I want to be clear: the same risks exist in all detention centres, including provincial jails. This weekend, our caravan will travel to two warehouses run by the province of British Columbia –carceral sites that have failed to massively decarcerate as a response to the pandemic.”

READ MORE: Federal handling of COVID-19 outbreak at Mission Institution criticized by MPs, advocates

The demonstration is expected to run from about noon to 2 p.m. between the two provincial prisons, one incarcerating men, the other incarcerating women, in the rural area of north Maple Ridge.

.

• If there is more to this issue, please let us know about it. Email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langley Lodge reports one new COVID-19 death, bringing total to 24

Death toll surpassed 22 on Wednesday, making that specific outbreak the deadliest in B.C.

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

VIDEO: Seventy-two Langley Fine Arts students record collaboration on their cellphones

Musicians performed Lake from Patrick Hawes’ work The Blue Bird Variations

VIDEO: Langley Fundamental jazz band performs for local seniors every Thursday

Music group joined by graduates looking to celebrate and spread cheer in the community

LETTER: Walnut Grove man wants gun ban clarified before taking stance

A local letter writer looked into gun ban and came away more confused by the rules

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Aldergrove Star to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

IHIT investigating ‘suspicious’ death of Surrey man

Officers found the body while on foot patrol: Surrey RCMP

Most Read