On August 19 prisoners at Central Nova Correctional Facility in Burnside, Nova Scotia issue a statement in solidarity with the nationwide prisoner strike in the US. Their statement contains a commitment to striking and a list of demands. They refuse work and face severe retaliation, including humiliating body scans and being locked in dry cells (no water or working toilets) for three days. Police attack a solidarity demo on September 9 outside the prison with pepper spray and a dog, arresting one supporter. On September 10th, a Burnside prisoner is found unresponsive in his cell and later dies.

El Jones publishes the prisoner’s statement and multiple updates about the strike at the Halifax Examiner and on The Black Power Hour a radio show co-produced with Burnside prisoners. There are also solidarity events and demonstrations around Halifax.

The prisoner’s action is widely acclaimed, gaining praise from national advocates and politicians on September 8. Then, on September 9 as a rowdy protest outside the facility wraps up, local police arrive and charge the protestors, grabbing and arresting one. They ignore the the police liaison and spray the questioning crowd with pepper spray, then unleash a police dog on them.

The following night around 9:30 PM a 29 year old prisoner is found unresponsive in his cell. He dies at the hospital early the next morning.

On September 12 the Halifax Examiner publishes a concluding statement from the strikers, who state that their “strategy is a success… [though] things seem to have worsened since the beginning as opposed to getting better” and they express gratitude for all the support they received, grief for the prisoner who died, and hope for continued struggle.

Citations:

The prisoners at the Burnside jail are engaged in a non-violent protest; here is their statement, Halifax Examiner, August 2018.

The Burnside powder keg: Broken promises, dehumanizing body scans, unfair solitary confinement, non-working toilets, lockdowns, and more, Halifax Examiner, August 2018.

Man arrested outside Burnside Jail, CBC News, September 2018.

Man found unresponsive in Burnside jail cell dies in hospital (update), Halifax Today, September 2018.

Black Power Hour 8/29, CKDU, August 2018.

Black August North: “We don’t pick and choose who gets human rights”, The Coast, August 2018.

Haligonians magnify the message of Burnside jail’s striking inmates, The Star Halifax, September 2018.

Prisoners at the Burnside jail end 20-day strike, issue statement, Halifax Examiner, September 2018.