*updated May 14th* “The protest that never happened”: Lumby residents stage NO PRISON demonstration at BC Liberal convention
I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended on to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts. ~ Abraham Lincoln.
It is little more than a day after the protest of a group of nearly 50 families and residents of Lumby drove two hours to Penticton and staged a protest outside the location of the BC Liberal Convention Centre.
The timing of the demonstration was no accident – it was strategic. Protestors arrived just as the exclusive Club 300( Club300Brochure-BCLiberals ) reception was about to begin, where donors, Christy Clark and the caucus mingled to talk about… well, whatever Liberals and donors talk about. You fill in the blank. The people of Lumby wanted to make a point to the still unelected premier( only elected as MLA in Pt. Grey and that seems highly questionable – a MUST read ), the caucus and the BC Liberal party donors.
And they did.
As you can read and see below this post, there was chanting, noise,media camera crews and reporters, and the leader of the protest, Hugette Allan, did interviews with media.
24 hours later? Nothing in the big media down here. Other than this site, the only report of a protest against a correctional facility in Lumby can be found HERE, and it was done prior to the demonstration . (Some local coverage was shown on Kelowna television news.)
This is the media release that was sent out following the protest:
13 May 2011 – For immediate Release
LUMBY – Close to fifty Lumby and area residents protested in Penticton today during the BC Liberal Party’s Convention to make it clear that the Lumby Prison does not have the support of the community. As party supporters were walking in to a special pre dinner meeting with the Premier, the group held signs and chanted “NO LUMBY PRISON”.
“We’re here today to let the Solicitor General and the Premier know that Lumby and area has spoken and that our words were clear: No Prison in Lumby” said spokesperson Huguette Allen “We want them to know that neither mayor Acton nor MLA Eric Foster have a mandate to pursue the prison since 56% of residents voted No. Mayor Acton is still pursuing the prison saying that Lumby Village voted 56% in favour. Yet prior to the vote, Mayor Acton was quoted in the Vernon Morning Star as saying “We consider Area D as the Lumby community. It’s one community“.
Allen also says that “Eric Foster, the same Mr. Foster who, as mayor of Lumby in 2008 had started proceedings to bring a jail to Lumby, had assured us that in his opinion, only a strong yes vote, around 70% yes, would warrant Lumby being considered by the province for a suitable prison site. Today we take to the streets to exercise our democratic right to be heard. All the people around me , young and old, have traveled for hours just in order to try and be heard because we can no longer trust that our own council and MLA are representing us.”
Allen says that they have heard that the Solicitor General is a fair and open person who listens to communities. “We are here to show that we still have hope that fairness, rationality and democracy will prevail” said Allen as people cheered. She then went inside the Conference Centre to hand deliver signed letters to the Solicitor General and the Premier but was stopped by an attendant who promised to give them the letters. Allen asked the attendant to invite them to come meet with the protesters, but they did not.
As the group was closing down the protest, one of the landowners whose property is under consideration for a possible prison location was seen entering the convention centre. “We hope that this action today will clarify for the decision makers that despite what they are told by a few close supporters, the majority of Lumby and area residents do not support having a prison in their small town.”
This is the letter that was given to the attendant to pass onto Christy Clark and Shirley Bond :
Solicitor General Shirley Bond
cc: Premier Christy Clarke
MLA Eric Foster
RDNO Director Rick Fairbairn
Mayor Kevin Acton
Subject: Lumby Prison has No Community Support
The Opinion Poll that occurred on April 30th in Lumby clearly shows that Lumby and Area does not support a prison in Lumby since 56% of voters, 1,108 people voted No, while 44%, 868 people voted Yes.
Despite this very clear result, Mayor Acton is pursuing the prison saying that in the Village itself, the numbers were reversed – 56% or 494 people voted yes while 44% or 381 people voted No.
On March 4h and again on April 29th Mayor Acton assured the public that residents of Area D’s votes would count. He was quoted in the “Vernon Morning Star” as saying “I can only speak for myself but my sense is council will go with what the Community wants. . We consider Area D as the Lumby community. It’s one community”. As well MLA Eric Foster, the same Mr. Foster who, as mayor of Lumby in 2008 had started proceedings to bring a jail to Lumby, had assured us that in his opinion, only a strong yes vote, around 70% yes, would warrant Lumby being considered by the province for a suitable prison site.
We had done research on the impacts of big prisons in small towns, made presentations to elected officials, and written letters. We then voted with confidence and hope. Our vote was clear and in good faith. We hoped that such a clear NO vote would merit the same in return but instead mayor Acton allowed Pro-Prison leaders to publicly ridicule and insult all who had voted No during the council meeting of May 2nd, as the decision to proceed was made 4 to 1 in favour. Mayor Acton voted in favour of proceeding.
We are here today to remind our elected officials that Lumby and area has spoken and that our words are clear: NO PRISON IN LUMBY. We are here, on the streets, while our elected officials are inside to exercise our democratic right to be heard: NO PRISON IN LUMBY.
We are here as Lumby citizens to make sure that Solicitor General Shirley Bond and BC’s Premier Christy Clarke understand that Lumby’s families say NO PRISON IN LUMBY. Our actions here today illustrate that we still have hope that fairness, rationality and democracy will prevail.
Thank you Solicitor General Shirley Bond for listening.
This is a video taken of the protest:
Here is the thing. There is no denying our correctional facilities are busting at the seams-a friend of mine in corrections affirms this. Our justice system is an embarrassment more than it is something to be proud of, and during the BC Liberals time in power it has become disabled by the cuts made to court systems province wide. Courthouses closed, legal aid cut, facilities closed. In a perfect world, we would see changes to the criminal code, restorative justice and alternative streams of prevention to deal with crime – and more importantly, to prevent it.
Indeed, in a perfect world, we would have government of visionaries, both on a humane and economic level.
But this is not a perfect world. However you spin the need for a new facility, the facts and research indicate correctional facilities in rural small communities suffer more than they benefit in the long term. And that is where these people come from.
Read the reports below, look at the photos, read the other posts I have done on this story in the last 6 weeks… and you decide what has happened here.
May 13th, 2011 – live blog of protest.
5:28 pm This just in- about 40 men, women and children have arrived at the Trade and Convection in Penticton on behalf of those opposed to the prison bid in Lumby. They are outside, camera crews are on site and the crowd is chanting NO PRISON! NO PRISON! Details as they come.
5:37 pm : A speech is being given, the cheers are loud to the sound of the speaker… many protesters carrying signs…
5: 48 : Speaking with a member of the crowd on the phone, her family lives in Lumby, Hugette Allen just finished her speech, went into the convention centre and delivered the letters of opposition for premier designate, Christy Clark and Shirley Bond.
5: 55: Mood is good, men in suits walking among the crowd, some people in formal wear coming out of the building, protestors singing ” We’re not gonna take it” ( Twisted Sister)
6 pm: Looks like things bode bad for Liberal MLA ERic Foster, signs say he is behind the prison.
6: 06 pm: One of the landowners whose property is under consideration for a possible prison location in Lumby, just walked by protesters, and entered the convention centre ~ Len Gudiet. Chanting reaches new level of loudness!
Lost signal shortly thereafter, heard from organizer Hugette Allan after the crowd dispersed, she had talked with Penticton mayor,who came out to talk to protestors.
Full details and more much later – protesters have to travel about two hours back to Lumby. However, this item from a reader in Edmonton came in, that aired yesterday ( CHBC was the only BC media that ran it as well, from what I could see ) http://www.globaltvedmonton.com/UPDATE+Shortlist+province+newest+prison/4773963/story.html
Penticton, Lumby, Summerland, Osoyoos Indian Band and Penticton Indian Band are all on the short list.