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Photos of Activists Partying Outside Prisons on New Year's Eve

Every year, activists gather outside British prisons to make as much noise as possible in order to make inmates feel more connected to the outside world on the biggest party night of the year.

by Chris Bethell
Jan 4 2016, 4:20pm

Over the past few years, a New Year's Eve tradition has been emerging in London. While most were attempting a final power nap, lining their stomachs, or getting started on their first drinks of the night, radical activists congregate around prisons in the early evening and scream, shout, and generally make as much noise as possible—the idea being that they can be heard by inmates, breaking the sense of isolation as they stew inside on what is supposed to be the most fun night of the year.

This year, noise protests took place outside Pentonville, Holloway, and Brixton prisons. VICE sent photographer Chris Bethell down to the Brixton protest to see what happened.

Around 60 people gathered outside the prison, undeterred by the heavy rain earlier in the day. After a few speeches about police brutality, people wandered around to the side of the prison, which is flanked by a large metal fence. A sound system started playing, and people hit drums, screamed, and banged pots and pans. A couple of people were masked up and in black-bloc clothes. They fumbled with a bag, which looked a bit ominous until they started handing out mince pies.

A small group of police hovered about as nervously as you would as a cop in a crowd that would occasionally shout "fuck the police!" Fortunately they didn't get out the pepper spray, as activists say happened last year. After a while, people surged forward to kick the metal fence and create even more of a racket. This continued on and off for an hour or so before everyone left.

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