The Postman Cometh – Tips for Writing to Cedar and Other Prisoners

Not much has changed in Cedar’s life over the past week. They are still
in segregation, though they are now allowed out onto the range for two hours
per day, allowing them much more access to phone calls. They are still
preparing for a bail review, though no date has been set. They are still
being sporadically denied visits and phone calls because of lockdowns,
staff shortages, or sometimes with no reason given at all. One thing we
can happily report is that a few days ago Cedar received a bundle of
sixty letters in the mail, perhaps an all-time record for Barton jail!
This is in addition to a steady stream of mail that has been coming
since they were arrested. Huge gratitude to everyone that’s taken time
to write them! We figured we’d use this blog to address some of the many
questions that have been swirling around about what & how to mail Cedar.

Cedar has specifically requested Arabic texts so they can keep
practicing their language skills. Unfortunately the guards won’t let
anything in they can’t read, so the best bet is to do line by line
translations (e.g. 1 line Arabic, 1 line English translation) so the
guards can be sure we’re not saying anything too interesting. If anyone
has access to websites they can print off, text books they can
photocopy, or can take the time to piece together translations, Cedar
would very much appreciate it.
So far we’ve noticed that the guards at Barton are really inconsistent.
We’ve seen magazine articles get confiscated, and paper back books get
in. But generally speaking here are some basic guidelines, mostly taken
from the New York City Anarchist Black Cross website. Use them when
writing to Cedar, or when writing to any prisoner for that matter. If
you’ve never done it before, now is a great time to practice your skills
so that even after Cedar gets out you can keep helping to break the
isolation of prisons by writing to folks on the inside.

-Firstly, do not write anything you wouldn’t want Fox News, a cop, or a
judge to see. Assume that guards and intelligence agencies are reading
your letter.
-You (usually) cannot enclose glitter or write with glittery gel pens or paint pens. Some prisons do not allow cards or letters that include
permanent marker, crayon, or colored pencils, and it is best to check
with the prisoner beforehand. That said, it is usually best to write in
standard pencil or non-gel pen in blue or black ink.
-You (usually) cannot include articles or anything else torn out of a
newspaper or magazine. However, you can print that same article from the
internet or photocopy it and write your letter on the other side.
-You cannot include polaroid pictures (though these days, that’s not
much of an issue), but you can include regular photographs. Some
prisoners are limited to the number of photos they can have at any given
time, so again, check with the prisoner before sending a stack of
photos. Also be cautious of sending pictures of people’s faces – we’ve
heard that those are much more likely to get confiscated.
-If mailing more than a letter, clearly write the contents of the
envelope/package. Label it “CONTENTS” and include a full list. Also
mention the contents in the letter so Cedar knows when things have been
-A couple of technical details– make sure you include your return
address inside the letter as well as on the envelope. It’s common for
prisoners to receive letters without the envelope.
-Make sure to number each page, such as 1 of 3, 2 of 3, et
cetera. This insures that if pages of your letter don’t make it to the
prisoner, they will know it.
-Lastly, if you’re unsure if something will get through, our advice is
to just try it and hope for the best. Be prepared for things to get
confiscated, but also imagine how good it will be if Cedar does get that
beautiful sunset picture you drew or that paper back novel you fell in
love with.

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Update: Week 3

Cedar is now in their third week of pre-trial incarceration in Barton Jail. They have been moved to the male side of the prison, but remain in segregation. This means that for 23 hours each day they sit in a tiny cell by themselves, completely cut off from any human contact short of occasional harassment from guards. For one hour each day their door swings open onto an empty range where they hurriedly shower, shave, and try to fit in a couple phone calls. Because prisoners can only make collect calls, monthly phone bills for an average prisoner can exceed several hundred dollars, in addition to the headache of cell phones being unable to receive collect calls. Nevertheless, we’ve managed to stay in relatively good contact with Cedar, sending them heaps of love and support from all over the world.

Last week the jail was on lock down because a guard lost a pair of scissors, meaning that no prisoners were allowed out of their cells. For 120 hours Cedar was left to sit in their cell completely cut off from the outside world, unable to simply ensure that their new lawyer would be in attendance at their upcoming court appearance. In spite of this, their spirits remain high. They’ve already received about a couple dozen letters from friends, read a text book on the history of the middle east, and are receiving as many visitors as the jail will allow. Thought, as we’ve learned time and time again, the administration can cancel visits without explanation or warning, and so family and friends who’ve traveled to visit Cedar and other prisoners are often left to vent their anger and sadness together in the foyer. In case you haven’t clued in yet: prison truly is a vile and inexcusable institution.

Cedar is preparing for a bail review, and has retained a new lawyer (Craig Bottomley) for the job. This will be a final chance to argue in front of a judge that they should in fact be granted bail, and not left to rot in a jail cell for the rest of the year while the system drags it’s oafish heels towards a trial. We are hoping for a bail review to happen within the next month, in time for Cedar to catch some of the spring bloom they so cherish. In the meantime, Cedar is going to continue to make regular, routine court appearances approximately every two weeks in which they will be hauled out of their cell, carted off to the courthouse, shackled and brought before a judge for three minutes of bureaucratic babble. Each time they step out into the courtroom they will look out to see faces of loved ones, pat their heart and smile, and then be forced to stand silent while mindless goons play with their life like it was a tired old slinky.

With each passing day of Cedar’s incarceration our rage towards this brutal regime only grows. The police, courts and prisons are necessary components of a world based on hierarchy and domination. It is a world we reject, and a world we will stand against until the last brick of the last prison has fallen. Far from being paralyzed by fear at the level of criminalization our community is currently facing, we are finding ways to organize support, build our networks, and continue to fight for a world without prisons.

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Letter Writing Night at The Tower

Join us for a letter writing night for Cedar at The Tower (281 Cannon St E)!

Stamps, envelopes, paper, & pens supplied. Are you not so experienced in letter writing to pals in jail? No worries! Folks will be on hand to answer questions, give prompts and encouragement.Letter writing is a important and easy way to give solace and send solidarity to our pal locked up.

Wanna send a letter but can’t make it to the event?

Send it to:

Peter (Cedar) Hopperton
C/O Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre
165 Barton St E
Hamilton, Ontario
L8L 2W6

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Stimulator Shoutout

For those of you who’ve never heard of em, subMedia produces videos which aim to promote anarchist politics, anti-capitalist ideas, and aid in social struggles. Why is this relevant? Because Cedar got a mention in this weeks edition of their show, The Fukin’ News!

In this week’s TFN, France’s off-brand Napoleon, Emmanuel Macron, meets his Battle of Waterloo in La ZAD, or Zone to Defend, in Notre Dames Des Landes. Meanwhile, in Hamilton so-called “Ontario”, the pigs launch a SWAT raid against a local anarchist collective house in an attempt to save face after last month’s “Locke Street Riot”.

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First Contact

We got our first proper visit with Cedar this week! They are doing well considering the circumstances, and asked us to send big love to everyone on the outside, and a huge heap of gratitude to the folks offering support. They explained that the day of the arrest was quite scary and that it was hard to be deprived of any information about what was happening to them or to their friends. They were interrogated for 90 minutes that day about their gender expression and their body, forced to be accountable to the violent assignment of gender upon which prison (and all of society for that matter) are predicated. They explained that every day since then has gotten progressively less scary, and that they are now mostly occupied with organizing a legal defence and overcoming the boredom of a tiny jail cell. They are being kept in segregation on the female side of the prison, though that will likely be changing soon. Segregation is in some ways a safer way to engage with a prison, but it’s also incredibly lonely, which means that anything we can do to break that isolation becomes particularly important.

Please take the time to write to Cedar at the address provided on this website. If you want to help keep their canteen fund full (money that they can use to buy overpriced goods from the mini-store in jail) and help will all of the other associated costs with Cedar being abducted and dragged through the legal system, please donate to the legal support fundraiser.

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As It Stands Today: Cedar’s Arrest

This has been a big month for Hamilton. To contextualize Cedar’s arrest, we can start with the Anarchist Bookfair in early March, our first bookfair here in 7 years. The event was a smashing success, and brought together people from all over the continent to explore possibilities for radical change, to envision a world without enforced hierarchies and domination, to simply meet each other and learn from each other. The weekend was particularly marked by a small riot through one of Hamilton’s most affluent neighborhoods and down one of its most noxious commercial streets. The “Locke Street Riot” was a collective expression of rage, not only against the rapid gentrification of Hamilton, but against capitalism and the violent world of alienation it fosters. It led to a lot of productive conversations about the inevitability of discomfort in fighting for new worlds, and the importance of clarifying and articulating our politics. The riot also kicked up some toxic Hamilton sediment, including a mass spillage of sentimental tears for small businesses, shrieks of “terrorism” from city councillors, and anti-anarchist fervor from local alt-right trolls who saw this as an opportunity to step into the limelight.

In the weeks that followed many of these reactions were channeled into Hamilton’s only anarchist social space, The Tower, which became the defacto target before they even had a chance to come out in support of the riot. First its windows were smashed, then the door was kicked down and the library got trashed, then the locks got glued, and more recently we’ve seen an ongoing wave of amateur graffiti, including the word “gay” written in crumbling wheat paste on the new plexiglass windows. In late March, while supporters of the tower were busy cleaning up after the break-in, a coalition of white-nationalist, misogynistic, homophobic trolls organized a rally in support of the businesses on Locke Street. Their sad rally was confronted and largely foiled, but not before a few of them had a chance to mingle with Locke Street business owners and chit-chat over a lemon-pistachio donut. Information was leaked revealing that the Soldiers of Odin and The Proud Boys were hoping to head over to The Tower after the rally in order to confront the “120 lbs beta males” they hoped to find there. The first time they showed up they found 40 anarchists ready to defend the space. They screamed about their democratic rights and ended up utilizing a police escort to get to the other side of the street. A few hours later a smaller group of them showed up drunk looking for a fight, and despite noble efforts to deescalate we ended up sending them home that day with bloodied and broken noses.

Meanwhile, public pressure to find those responsible for the riotous action on Locke street built. The police had been unable to apprehend anyone on the night of the action, and had responded to public outcry with promises of justice and desperate pleas for public cooperation. Finally on April 6th, one month after the riot, the police put on a show for the bloodthirsty public. Warrants in hand, they smashed down the door of a collective house at dawn and lobbed a flash grenade into the living room. With assault rifles drawn they stormed through the house putting people in cuffs, and arrested Cedar (Peter) Hopperton charging them with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence (unlawful assembly while masked). The others were released and made to spend hours in the driveway while the cops turned the house inside out looking for anything that might help their investigation. They seized computers, phones, loose papers, zines and books, which will inevitably take years to recover from their greasy hands.

Cedar’s bail hearing, which itself only occurred five days after the arrest and after one particularly sneaky maneuver by the Crown to delay it, was a painstaking ordeal. Four hours of blathering drivel in which it became clear that not only Cedar, but all of anarchism was on trial. In the end Cedar was denied bail and sent back to the hellscape of Barton jail where hordes of abducted people wait in wretched conditions for trial. They will potentially remain in Barton for a year or more while the state drags its heels in making a case against them.

We in Hamilton have organized a solid support team to make sure that Cedar has reliable legal defense and as much advocacy and communication as possible. We want to continue the projects they hold dear, and support any forms of organizing they might pursue in jail. We’ve launched this blog as a space where we can provide updates on Cedar’s whereabouts, their legal situation, and how they’re doing. Should there be any more arrests in connection with the Locke Street riot this site will offer similar outlet for those support efforts. Prison isn’t the end of the road for anarchists, it’s merely one dimension of the world we stand against. We will do everything in our power to resist the isolation they attempt to impose on those they capture, and continue to fight together against the world of police, courts and prisons.

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