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Reimagining Safety, Advancing Visions for a Decarceral City: Dispatches from Community Organizers
March 30 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Amid global calls to defund the police following the murder of George Floyd by officers in Minneapolis, continued efforts to work towards diversion and decarceration from prisons, and on-going concerns stemming from the expansion of state and corporate surveillance, there continues to be a push to expand these and other forms of carcerality in the city of Ottawa located on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Territory. This is most evident in the year-over-year budget increases for the Ottawa Police Service (OPS), gentrification and the increased presence of police under the guise of “neighbourhood resource teams” in communities where poverty, homelessness and precarious housing are a common experience, the carceralization of public space through increases in surveillance and so-called security personnel from transit stations to sidewalks abutting sites of mass capitalist accumulation like the Rideau Centre, and the provincial government’s push to build more prison spaces in the region that will forcibly displace people pushed to the margins from the city to a proposed site of human caging in Kemtpville, as well as planned expansions to existing facilities in Brockville and Napanee. However, carcerality in the form of surveillance, coercion, control, displacement and even containment is not always fixed to particular spaces, but is also mobile, appearing in contexts often associated with care such schools, shelters, hospitals, harm reduction sites, treatment centres, and the like where being perceived to be out of place or engaging in behaviour deemed problematic can also lead to exclusion in the Carceral City in ways that diminish our collective well-being and safety.
This event, in the form of dispatches from community organizers, aims to make visible how carcerality is at work, as well as how safety is being reimagined and practiced outside of carceral frameworks in Ottawa. This intervention stems from a research project called “Resistance and Advocacy in the Carceral City” funded by an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada involving members of the University of Ottawa’s Carceral Studies Research Collective and community members involved in police, prison, penal and/or carceral abolitionist organizing in the city.