Ashley Smith Vigil 2013: To Remember is to Resist

Candlelight Vigil Marking 6th Anniversary of Ashely Smiths Death

October 20th; 8pm
Speakers Corner (King and Benton) Downtown Kitchener

Presented by We Remember Ashley Smith

To Remember is to Resist

Ashley Smith died at the age of 19 in Kitchener’s Grand Valley Institution for Women on October 19th, 2007.  Deemed to be suffering ‘poor mental health’, in isolation and on suicide watch, Ashley tied a ligature around her neck and asphyxiated to death as seven guards, who were ordered not to intervene, watched.

Ashley practiced a number of self-harming behaviours including what she called “tieing-up”.
These practices were well-documented and Ashley repeatedly told her psychiatrist that she sought human interaction through her self harming – it would draw guards into her cell.  She assured staff that she didn’t want to die and said to her psychiatrist that she knew the guards wouldn’t let anything happen to her – they were thought of as friends.

We come together each passing year to hold on to the memory of Ashley Smith.

A Coroner’s Inquest is currently in its final stages.  The Smith family lawyer has called the proceedings a “pure and simple State cover-up” and more recently the Warden at Grand Valley at the time of Ashley’s arrival showed up to give testimony with a doctor’s note that said the she could not endure cross-examination.  What we already know is made painfully clear through these sad proceedings: the prison system is designed to silence, disappear and murder while offering impunity to those who willfully take on the wretched task of imprisonment.

The media dubs Ashley Smith a ‘Troubled Teen”. Ashley Smith was a Tortured Teen.  Her torture was funded by our tax dollars and was carried out in a system that we allow to exist.  We would all be troubled if we endured what Ashley endured in the prison system. Prior to this torture Ashley was a caring and insightful young person who was drawn to social justice work.

Ashley was first imprisoned at the age of 13 on a charge that she threw a crab apple at a mail-carrier.  Ashley’s neighbours were receiving their Social Assistance cheques late and Ashley (informed by others) was suspicious that the mail carrier was withholding the needed funds.  Ashley took direct action and fought for the needs of the poor.  Ashley’s tactic and analysis is a forerunner to the needs of our current struggle against austerity.  It is not enough to protest MPPs because they are no longer decision-makers in this global age of austerity.  We need to oppose with the strongest of means any power that seeks to push the poor further towards hopelessness, isolation, imprisonment, violence and death.

We Remember Ashley Smith

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