Ottawa

Kingston prison farm protesters form blockade

Three tractor-trailers loaded with cattle drove out of the Frontenac Institution prison in Kingston, Ont., Monday morning in spite of the hundreds of protesters trying to stop them.

Three tractor-trailers loaded with cattle drove out of the Frontenac Institution prison in Kingston, Ont., Monday morning in spite of the hundreds of protesters trying to stop them.

The protest is an effort to save the final two prison farms in Canada.

More than 150 police officers faced off against the several hundred protesters at the entrance to the prison Monday morning, and continued to make arrests. Nine people were arrested during protests on Sunday, including an 87-year-old woman and a 14-year-old girl. Nine more were arrested Monday.

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Hundreds had gathered before noon Sunday at the entrance to the prison, located west of the city's downtown.

They were there to prevent several trucks from picking up a dairy herd from a prison farm that has provided work for inmates for more than 100 years.

Last year, the federal government announced it's closing all six of Canada's prison farms, and Sunday's protest was an effort to save one of the remaining two. Farms in Atlantic Canada and the Prairies were auctioned off in June.

Drenched by heavy rain, the protesters stood shoulder to shoulder, blocking entry to the prison grounds where the farm is located.

One protester, Daniel Beals, vowed not to let any cattle trucks through.

"It's really sad that it's come to that, but if that's how we have to make a statement," Beals said.

Two hours into the protest, four tractor-trailers arrived at the intersection, and Staff Sgt. Lillian Wolcer, one of 20 police officers on the scene, offered a compromise.

"You are able to stand on the roadway here for 10 minutes, and then you will be asked to leave the street," Wolcer said.

But the protesters were not willing to compromise.

Police handcuff protesters

As the tractor-trailers inched closer, the protesters didn't budge. Finally, police officers handcuffed a few of them and dragged them away.

"You're committing criminal acts of mischief. Please disperse and clear the roadways immediately," Wolcer said.

In the end, nine people were arrested on Sunday, the oldest in her 80s.

Another protester, Caroline Yull, said she was also prepared to be taken away by police if necessary.

"I can't really stop them if they want to. Oh well, if you don't stand up for something, you'll have to lie down for everything. I'm a lawyer and part of my caseload has always been incarcerated people, and I've seen first-hand what good is done by these programs, and I think it's just a big piece of foolishness. This is democracy in action," Yull said.

Twenty police officers were on the scene most of Sunday afternoon. They warned people who blocked the trucks they'd be arrested if they didn't move.

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