City officials vow to tackle Rikers Island crisis at rally outside City Hall

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In a court of public opinion, Rikers Island is guilty of inhumanity and should be condemned to its demise, criminal justice advocates and elected officials charged Thursday morning.

During the latest protest against horrific conditions at the correctional facility, protesters gathered in the cold rain outside City Hall on Jan. 20 to rail against the state of the infamous jail, pointing out that a vast number of those who currently reside there have yet to be convicted of a crime.

Elected Officials and advocates rallied outside City Hall on Jan. 20 to demand Rikers Island be closed. Photo by Dean Moses

“First of all, let’s get it straight, it is a jail. That means you are innocent until proven guilty,” said Akeem Browder, brother of Kalief Browder, who was arrested at age 16 in 2010 and spent three years in solitary confinement without being convicted of a crime; he later committed suicide. “Most of the people that we are representing right now are at three years on Rikers for nonviolent crimes. Three years still on Rikers, but the judges, the District Attorneys, and the court correction officers are playing a part in all of it. They don’t want to bring people to court. They use COVID as an excuse. Yet that does not excuse the rights that these people have to a speedy trial.”

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