Caravan demonstrates outside Maple Ridge prisons

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

Police and ambulance crews were at First Avenue and Murray Street on in 2017 after a cyclist was injured in a crash. Kevin Mills photo.
District of Mission seeks public input on transportation planning

Online survey launched where residents can pinpoint traffic-issue areas in the community

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Hit-and-run driver knocks pedestrian into ditch in Abbotsford

Woman was walking in area of Harris Road and Riverside Street on Monday

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Abbotsford residents gather in the Clearbrook area on Monday to demonstrate against what they say is unfairt treatment by the Indian government to farmers in the Punjab region of that country. (Maan Sidhu photo)
Abbotsford residents gather to protest unfair treatment of India farmers

Locals believe new bills will devastate small farms, demand farmers be allowed to protest peacefully

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Most Read