OPSEU wants province to protect EMDC staff after 'intimidation tactics'

The president of OPSEU is calling on Ontario's Solicitor General to protect staff at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC) after alleged "intimidation tactics by outlaw motorcycle clubs."

Warren (Smokey) Thomas added in a statement late Wednesday, "We will not tolerate attempts to intimidate these front-line heroes...I condemn this harassment in the strongest possible terms and call on the Solicitor General to intervene immediately."

The union cites a rally held on Saturday outside the jail that included a number of people wearing visible biker club logos.

The rally followed a memorial for 32-year-old Brandon Marchant, who died in hospital on July 6 after being found unresponsive in his cell at EMDC three days earlier.

He was the 19th death associated with EMDC since 2009. Ontario's Special Investigations Unit is looking into the death.

In addition, OPSEU says since the rally protestors have been harassing correction staff by stopping cars, photographing staff and licence plates, and threatening staff on social media.

The union wants the threats denounced publicly by the ministry and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.

"No employee should be threatened with violence while reporting to work, much less the good people who put their lives on the line to protect others," said Thomas. "It has been long documented that this facility is under-resourced, yet OPSEU/SEFPO members continue to strive to keep everyone in custody safe. The Ministry must take staff safety seriously, too."

CTV News London reached out to Jones for comment and received an email response.

It read in part, "Staff in the ministry have been working closely with local London police to take the steps necessary to ensure the ongoing safety of both staff and inmates at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre.

"The facility remains secure and my top priority continues to be the safety of both staff and inmates."

It went on to thank correctioonal workers and London police for their work to support community safety.

 

- With files from CTV News London's Bryan Bicknell