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Jan 3, 23

Noise Demos Ring In New Year Against Backdrop of Increasing Police Violence and Growing Prisoner Resistance

On New Year’s Eve, anarchists, abolitionists, and angry community members across the so-called United States, Canada, and the world, all took part in yearly noise demonstrations outside of jails, prisons, detention centers, and juvenile hall facilities. Several communities used noise demonstrations to highlight ongoing campaigns and denounce recent deaths inside various facilities, such as in Tucson, AZ and Norman, OK. In Brooklyn, NY, for two nights people marched and rallied, protesting the 19 deaths that took place throughout 2022 on Rikers Island. In central California, people across the state converged on Corcoran prison, the site of ongoing organizing on both sides of the prison walls.

This year’s noise demonstrations took place against a backdrop of escalating police violence, which has only ramped up in the wake of the George Floyd uprising. According to Samuel Sinyangwe of Mapping Police Violence,Police killed more people in America in 2022 than any other year on record. At least 1,176 people were killed by police nationwide – 3.2 killings per day,” while funding for police departments has only increased.

Meanwhile at the US/Mexico border, the Biden administration continues to separate children from their families and has pushed to expand Title 42, to bar asylum seekers from a variety of countries in the global South. As Truthout wrote:

Though the Biden administration has been attempting to end Title 42 in court, it is still enforcing inhumane anti-immigrant policies, fighting elsewhere to dismiss families’ lawsuits over the cruel family separation policy at the southern border and continuing to detain immigrants in prisons.

US prisons, jails, and detention facilities in 2022 were also the site of ongoing mass resistance in 2022. This spring saw continued hunger-strikes at the Northwest Detention facility in Tacoma, Washington. In the fall, thousands of prisoners across Alabama launched a general work strike and issued a series of demands. On January 6th, prisoners across Pennsylvania will launch another strike and have already issued a set of demands. As Kim Kelly wrote:

On January 6, incarcerated workers across Pennsylvania will launch a statewide strike in solidarity with the Alabama strikers, and in protest of the inhumane policies to which they and other incarcerated workers are subjected by the state of Pennsylvania and the U.S. carceral system writ large. They announced their intention to strike with a November 26 communique that was circulated on social media and within the broader abolitionist community. Organized under the name Subaltern Peoples Abolitionist Revolutionary Collective (SPARC), the workers outlined their demands while castigating the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC). “The PA DOC is the enemy of public safety,” they wrote. “It is the enemy of human decency.”

Check out our roundup of New Year’s Eve noise demo actions below. For coverage of past years, go here.

Seattle, WA

Noise demonstration took place outside of the King County Jail. From a report posted to Puget Sound Anarchists

About two dozen folks showed out for a Noise Demo at the King County Jail at 8pm on New Years Eve. The call wasn’t public but made its way through whisper networks and group chats. Some folks brought a big banner visible for folks inside, others brought bullhorns, pots and pans, and metal objects to make cacophonous noise on the neighboring utility poles. As the demo went on folks could see the shadows of those locked up in the windows looking down on our small crowd.

Around 9pm some folks launched off several fireworks. Not long after multiple SPD cars showed up and aggressive officers confronted the crowd. One jumped out of his cruiser with a pepper ball gun. Some folks left but others stayed to heckle the cops and keep up a little more noise before finally dispersing.

Tacoma, WA

Noise demonstration took place outside of the Northwest Detention facility.

Corcoran, CA

Noise demonstration took place outside of Corcoran prison. From a report by Oakland Abolition and Solidarity:

On the last day of 2022 abolitionists drove several hours in the rain from Southern and Northern CA to converge at Corcoran State Prison. About 15 people held an approximately two hour noise demonstration stating at the entrance to the facility. They also marched on the road to an area of fencing nearest some of the cell blocks.

There was yelling, chanting, air horns, banging of pots and pans, and several readings of speeches from current and historic inside organizers. Our voices could be heard echoing off of the concrete inside and back to us.

Noise demos outside prisons and jails have been a new years tradition for several years amongs abolitionist, anarchists, and others who work against the police state.

Tucson, AZ

Noise demonstration took place outside of the Pima County Jail. From a report on Unicorn Riot:

Ten people lost their lives in the Pima County Jail in 2022 alone, making a total of 29 people who have died in the jail since the beginning of 2020. The yearly death rate of the jail is more than three times the national average.

In fact, the vast majority of jails in the country do not report any deaths per year at all. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, from 2000 to 2019, an average of 81% of jail jurisdictions in the U.S. reported no deaths during the calendar year. Only 6% of jails in the country reported 2 or more deaths per year.

No Jail Deaths’ website hosts a memorial page commemorating each person who died in the jail in the last three years. Last year, Unicorn Riot reported on the death of a local hip-hop artist, Justin Crook, aka J-Mac the Coldest, in the jail.

This ongoing crisis has passed with little more than lip service from those in power. Sheriff Chris Nanos, who runs the jail, has repeatedly sloughed off responsibility for the massive loss of human life, insisting against all evidence that it is normal.

In December, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved $11 million in pay increases and bonuses for jail staff. Sheriff Nanos, seemingly leveraging deaths in the jail to increase his budget, has called the situation at the jail a “full-blown crisis.”

Austin, TX

Noise demonstration took place outside of the county jail.

Norman, OK

Noise demonstration took place outside of the Cleveland County jail. According to a report from KOCO 5:

Dozens began the new year demanding action for jail reform and transparency from authorities in Cleveland County after two women died at the jail less than two weeks apart.

Over 100 people were at the protest Sunday, rallying for systemic change starting with the Cleveland County Jail. The group called “Justice for Shannon” held a peaceful protest outside the jail where Shannon Hanchett died on Dec. 8.

The “Cookie Queen’s” death sparked public outcry because many believe she should have been taken to a nearby hospital for a mental health evaluation rather than jail. Days later, another woman named Kathryn Milano died while in custody.

Omaha, NE

Noise demonstration took place outside of county jail.

Chicago, IL

Noise demonstration took place outside of the Cook County jail. A report from It’s Going Down wrote:

A gaggle of prison abolitionists gathered on New Year’s Eve to lift the spirits of community members held captive inside the draconian Cook County Jail, the second largest county jail in this whole damn incarceration nation.

People blasted music from speakers and banged makeshift instruments, shooting off fireworks, marching around the entire jail making sure all divisions saw some love, holding up signs and banners like Fuck Cop City and Pretrial Fairness Now.

January 1st was supposed to begin the implementation of the “Pretrial Fairness Act,” a decarceration law passed in Illinois that would abolish cash bail. But the fascist copaganda disinfo machine called this a “purge,” and a single judge in Kankakee county stopped the law in the final hours of 2022, ensuring that thousands throughout the state would continue to remain in jail for the sole reason that they cannot afford bail.

We knew the State would not so readily empty their prisons, miserable torture centers where dozens of prisoners have died over the past few years alone. We know that even though courts may eventually throw out the flimsy arguments about the “unconstitutional” nature of this bill on appeal, the fascists will continue to fight tooth and nail to preserve the racist system of mass incarceration.

Cleveland, OH

Noise demonstration took place outside of local facility.

Dayton, OH

Noise demonstration took place outside of county jail. From report by 937 Abolition:

Our noise demo today was very powerful and extremely successful, we were able to connect with other activists, and speak with those behind bars directly with a megaphone. They put notes in the windows, they made song requests, sang along with us, they thanked us and gave us information on how to contact them.

New Orleans, LA

Noise demonstration took place outside of local facility.

Atlanta, GA

Noise demonstration took place outside of DeKalb County jail.

Durham, NC

Noise demonstration took place outside of local facility.

Asheville, NC

Over 100 mobilized for a noise demonstration outside of the Buncombe County Detention Center.

Norfolk, VA

Noise demonstration took place outside of local facility.

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Noise demonstration took place outside of the Broward County Jail.

Minneapolis, MN

Noise demonstration took place outside of local facility. A report on It’s Going Down wrote:

It is this potential which the state intends to capture, to incarcerate. This is why the state of Georgia is currently embarrassing itself with charges of “terrorism” against a movement to defend a forest that has held the upper hand since its inception.

We are still here, shouting “happy new year” to the kids locked up in Hennepin County for yet another year. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Boston, MA

Noise demonstration took place outside of the Nashua St. jail.

Central Falls, RI

Noise demonstration took place outside of the Wyatt Detention Facility. According to one report:

Around 30 people gathered outside the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central falls, Rhode Island on a rainy but warm New Year’s Eve as part of a “noise demo” designed to let people incarcerated inside that they were not forgotten. Organized by AMOR Rhode Island (Alianza para Movilizar Nuestra Resistencia), the noise demo was joined by the Extraordinary Rendition Band (ERB) and marched up and down High Street and Blackstone Street, eliciting reactions from incarcerated people inside who could be seen silhouetted in the windows of the facility.

“Shut down the Wyatt, Free them all!” yelled protesters, hoping to put an end to an institution that over the years has, among other things, tortured and killed inmates, ignored an exploding Covid outbreak, and allowed correctional officers to assault peaceful protesters outside the facility with a pickup truck and pepper spray.

Baltimore, MD

Noise demonstration took place outside of local facility.

NYC, NY

In Brooklyn, New York on December 30th, as Ash J reported:

Anarchists [and] other abolitionists in NYC had a short march to the Manhattan Night Court “to stand against the mega-jail cop mayor Rikers death machine!” Protesters took the streets, handed out flyers to community members, and left some radical artwork on the streets.

The next night, people rallied for a noise demonstration outside of the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC).

Prince George, BC:

Noise demonstration took place outside of the Prince George Correctional Center.

Hamilton, ON

Noise demonstrations took place outside of both the Arrell Youth Prison and the Barton jail facility. From a report on Northshore Counter-Info:

This was our 14th consecutive year of marking New Year’s Eve in Hamilton with noise demos outside our local prisons. This year, we visited the Arrell Youth Prison on the Hamilton mountain before making the traditional stop at the Barton Jail.

We had about 15 people make the drive out to the remote southern edge of Hamilton to set off fireworks for the youth. Youth prisons in Ontario are privatized, so Arrell is run by Banyan, a youth-focused social service agency. But don’t let the fact that they also run summer camps fool you — this place is a prison, complete with razor wire and cells.

There is not a lot of access to good windows at Arrell, but we set up in an area where we had been able to connect with prisoners in the past. We could see a few people inside, but it’s not clear if they were prisoners or staff. We probably need to learn more about the rhythm of the day inside this prison if we want to be sure we are being seen by the right people.

For the Barton Jail, thirty people gathered in a nearby park before heading to the prison.

Montreal, QC

Noise demonstration took place outside of a local facility.

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