Stay on track: Rikers Island protesters urge mayoral candidates to support the proposed closure of the prison


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Lawyers and those who have spent time within the rough walls of Rikers Island continue to hold accountability from both elected officials and those running for office in the upcoming November election.

A week before the first mayoral debate, protesters following the immediate closure of Rikers Island called on Tuesday that candidates – including Democrat Eric Adams and Republican Curtis Sliwa – commit to closing the facility. At a rally on Chambers Street and Center Street in front of City Hall Park on October 12, speakers told a crowd that they will seek immediate, meaningful action from the next mayor.

“The next mayor will inherit the human rights disaster on Rikers and The Boat. But they will also inherit a plan to shut it down, led by survivors from Rikers. You will either be the mayor who implements this plan and erases this stain on NYC once and for all; or the only mayor in the history of this town who took office with a plan to close Rikers but chose to keep it open. We won’t let that happen, ”said Darren Mack, Co-Director of Freedom Agenda.

This joint action by advocacy groups such as the Women’s Community Justice Association, the Mental Health Project – Urban Justice Center, BronxConnect, the Legal Action Center, the Exodus Transitional Community, the Jails Action Coalition and others has also challenged the current mayor for his dealings – or charged as spokesman – the mishandling of the crisis on Rikers.

Lawyers ripped open the de Blasio government for promising to end racial and economic inequality, but they believe it only made things worse on Rikers Island.

Protesters say Rikers Island is a human rights crisis. Photo courtesy Freedom Agenda

“The current state of Rikers Island is abysmal and every second the Mayor ignores this crisis and his commitment to shut down Rikers, we run the risk of losing more lives. Rikers is called Torture Island for a reason, everyone from the incarcerated to visitors to work suffer from the conditions. The least this current government can do is start the process of closing the Rose M. Singer Center and addressing the trauma it has inflicted on all who live, visit and work there, ”said Leah Faria, Women’s Community Leader Community Justice Association.

The group says they will do everything in their power to alert the next New York City mayor of the humanitarian crisis on Rikers Island and promise that no matter how hard it may be to hear, they will see up Will not hesitate to vote for a new election Official makes a change.

“I was tortured on Rikers Island – raped and starved. But people are still going through what I’ve endured. Too many have died – I mean were killed – at the hands of officers. That is not right. The next mayor must put an end to this abuse, ”said Candi Hailey, a member of the Jails Action Coalition.

In a related note, Queens / Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi became the newest legislator to tour Rikers Island on Tuesday. He then issued a statement recognizing that detainees and guards alike faced dire conditions, but suggested that a way could be found to improve conditions there significantly.

“I know firsthand that the deteriorating infrastructure I witnessed today, the workforce and years of mismanagement caused the facility in Rikers to fail,” said Suozzi. “People are calling for the Rikers to close. There are credible plans that require some changes to build new facilities, use alternatives to incarceration for suitable nonviolent offenders, along with other plans to close facilities and reduce prison populations, but such relocation cannot be for at least six years occur! Six years! The physical facility of Rikers needs improvement. Staffing needs to be reassessed and appropriate. Management needs to come up with a clear vision and a plan to implement that vision. “

With reporting by Robert Pozarycki


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