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Shut Down Rikers Island–And Don’t Build New Jails–Immigrant Groups Say

(Jimmy Van Bramer: Twitter)

Oct 9, 2019 By Shane O’Brien

A number of immigration organizations and some elected officials are holding three days of rallies across Queens and Brooklyn in opposition to the mayor’s borough-based jail plan.

The groups–as well as elected officials such as Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer- are calling for the closure of Rikers Island but without the construction of new jails. They argue this can be done by reducing the prison population from about 7,000 today to 3,000 by 2026 through justice reform.

The city, however, only has room for 2,100 prisoners in its jails outside Rikers Island.

The rallies started on Wednesday in Jackson Heights and will conclude in Brooklyn on Friday.

Wednesday’s rally took place at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, while Thursday’s rally will take place at 5 p.m. at the intersection of Lefferts Boulevard and Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill.

The final rally will take place Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Avenue C Plaza in Kensington, Brooklyn.

The Jackson Heights rally was attended by Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and immigrant advocacy groups Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM), Immigrant Defense Project and Detention Watch Network among other organizations.

Thursday’s rally will be attended by Council Member Inez Barron, while Brooklyn Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel is slated to attend Friday’s rally.

DRUM is holding the rallies ahead of next week’s City Council vote on the mayor’s plan to shut Rikers Island and replace it with four borough-based jails in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. The plan will cost about $11 billion.

The City Council vote is essentially the last step in the process, via ULURP, before the mayor’s plan is officially approved.

On Wednesday, the protest group argued that no jails are necessary in order to close Rikers since the city’s jail population is falling.

They said that the money would be better spent on improving schools, fixing public housing and the subways, creating job programs and providing more care for physical and mental illnesses.

The protest groups also contend that any new jails would put immigrant communities at a greater risk of being detained and deported.

Van Bramer took to Twitter after the rally and reiterated his opposition to the new jail plan.

“We should not be pouring $10 billion back into a failed, racist system that criminalizes poverty & thrives on terrorizing immigrant communities,” Van Bramer said on Twitter.

Last week, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took a similar stance and said that Rikers could be closed without any new jails being built.

She endorsed a report from advocacy group No New Jails, which says the city can reduce its jail population to 3,000 by 2026 and house inmates in the current correctional facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

However, the city said that the No New Jails concept is implausible. The mayor’s office forecasts that there will be around 4,000 inmates in New York by 2026 and that there are only 2,100 beds in the current borough jails – 900 less than the population No New Jails forecasted and just over half of what the city predicts.

The mayor’s office said that it was not possible to close Rikers without building new jails and said that Rikers would remain open if no new jails are built.

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A part of me makes me wonder if closing rikers to build new jails just means that rikers will become affordable housing for migrants and or low income and this is why so many are for it. There is no reason to build new jails when the current jails could be renovated and or repaired. What is the greater goal or motivation for developing new prisons and placing them in areas where few if any residents have incarcerated family members.

Chirlene & Bill Explain this 2 Us

Keep them in Rikers and add 1,000 more floors to house the criminally insane mentally ill. Read this story: On Oct. 11, 2019
A 6-year-old boy was assaulted by an emotionally disturbed homeless man right outside his grandfather’s Kew Gardens home yesterday. The boy was standing in the driveway of the home near Metropolitan Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard just before 5 p.m. on Thursday when a 35-year-old homeless man randomly attacked him. The man, Laurance Gendreau- who has a history of mental illness, was walking in the area when he suddenly picked up the boy and threw him on the ground, police said.The boy landed on his face and was taken to Cohen Children’s Medical Center for a facial contusion and hemorrhaging to the brain, according to the police. How is Chirlene’s NYC Thrive working? The Billions wasted on NYC Thrive and she was never elected. Criminals, mentally ill do not assimilate into society, they prey upon it. Ship them upstate where there is plenty of land.

LIC Direct

Once again JVB in the pocket of developers. Needs that $$$ for his next public office run.


It is unbelievable what liberal policies are doing to this city and this country. I am an immigrant who respects this country’s laws, yet nyc politicians are putting criminals above citizens and legal residents.
All these hired ”close Rikers now” groups have nothing else to do, many with criminal past, they get paid to rally, while the rest of us are at work trying to support our families. NO ONE is talking about the victims harmed by the ones doing time on Rikers!!! This is an OUTRAGE! What about the Victims?! They do not get any free therapy, are left to suffer with emotional and physical injuries, financial loss, in silence, while this multiple arrestees complain that they need therapy because “oh sorry I killed raped robbed brutally assaulted but it’s not my fault give me free rehabilitation programs and jobs for free”. All I can say is do your research and vote in your local elections. Show up in droves and vote them out! November 5th is the Queens District’s Attorney elections, current borough president Melinda Katz is running, even though she wrote a letter to restart the Rikers process review she is not against borough jails. She is as liberal and left as they come, she defends the ones who broke the law, she wants the new jail built. All this politicians are afraid that they’ll be voted out, that’s why they are currently looking into blocking any new administration to rebuild jails on Rikers. What is the most amazing is that many in the city administration including city council have their roots and ancestors who ran from countries with left regimes and policies and now they want to make USA into one of them.


I think they just want all the prisoners released on their own recognizance… what a great idea … can u say repeat offenders ???


Damn snowflakes. Where do you think this criminals will be if not in jails? OUT IN THE OPEN! Stealing, robbing, raping and murdering the rest of us. This city needs Giuliani. Dems failed this city all the time.


Post-Giuliani is now a criminal. He has aided and abetted in a campaign finance fraud, he has illegally conducted government business.


Wow, immigrant communities have time for that? When I first came here my only thought was how do I make a better life for myself and my family. Oh my how the American dream changed since then.

When difference is the yesteryear immigrants actually WANTED a better life.

Exactly. No “please speak MY language” crap. You learned English if you wanted to succeed.

Why do the people that get offended by everything call people "snowflakes?"

If that hurts your feelings you’re too fragile for NYC. Move to a Republican paradise like Alabama!


it has recently come out that big business interests are hiring “underprivileged” to group together for demonstrations cloaked in righteous causes that actually work in the interest of big business. In this instance, I imagine developers.


This whole thing has gotten out of hand thanks to Bozo trying to make a name for himself by destroying the city. There’s no point in closing Rikers other than the greed of trying to develop it for profit. If it’s run down, give it a rehab. Look what we’re doing to LaGuardia. Should we have just built another airport somewhere else because that one had a bad rep and needed overhaul, heck no and it’s the same with the prison. I don’t care that it has a bad name and has been known as a tough place, HELLO! It’s a PRISON! Being there should be a punishment, stop coddling everybody. I have never hated a politician as much as Bozo and count the days till he’s out of our lives!


Any demonstration that says “close Rikers,” is financed by developers.
Developing Rikers will make billions.
A NYT article discusses how businesses now pay for “grass roots” and “the poor” demonstrations. Or hire key actors to get people riled.
Example: when Kew Gardens rallied against the Mayor’s jail, a group from outside the borough came, screaming they were racist.
After that, they realized communities like Kew Gardens, would block the Rikers closing because it would house a jail full of inmates in their neighborhood.
So, developers now have a new tactic:
They get groups to rally against new jails – to appease anti jail communities. But to say that it is important to close Rikers, because keeping it open is cruel and racist.
OK. So after Rikers is closed, and career criminals are set free, crime is going to catapult. THEN the city will build new jails, and developers will have their precious Rikers.
At that point, living this city won’t be worth chicken s*t.


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