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Katal New York Update- August 25, 2023

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Death Toll on Rikers Rises to 27 Under Mayor Adams

On Tuesday morning, news broke that Donny Ubiera, who was incarcerated on Rikers Island, passed away at age 33. This is at least the 27th death in New York City jails since Mayor Eric Adams took office. We put out a statement in response to the horrible news calling on Mayor Adams to stop the violence and reduce the city’s jail population, shut down Rikers, and invest in true public safety: housing, health care, education, and jobs.

Statement from Luke Steele, Leader of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice: “I have been detained at Rikers, and I can tell you that the conditions found there are straight out of a nightmare. No one deserves to be there. Under Mayor Adams’ watch the conditions have gone from bad to worse. It is upsetting and infuriating to learn that yet another life has been lost in New York City Jails. Since the Mayor took office, at least 27 incarcerated individuals have died in city jails. I feel for the individuals that we have lost and send my deepest condolences to those who loved them.

Check out the full statement and see news coverage about the recent death in the NY Daily News, the Patch, News12 Brooklyn, and Telemundo

To join the fight to shut down Rikers, please reach out to Melanie Dominguez at melanie@katalcenter.org or 516-588-0127.


ICYMI: Close Rikers March and Rally on August 10th

Two weeks ago, we gathered at City Hall with people directly impacted by Rikers, community groups, and elected officials to demand that Mayor Adams take immediate action to shut down the notorious Rikers Island Jail Complex. We then marched to Foley Square, near the federal courthouse, for a 1 p.m. rally and press conference to demand that, until Rikers is closed, the federal court must intervene and appoint an independent receiver to take over, improve conditions, and save lives. 

 Our action took place before the U.S. District Court hearing about Rikers, called by U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain, to discuss whether control of the jail complex will be taken away from Mayor Adams and assigned to an independent “receiver”. The receiver would be tasked with reducing violence and addressing the longstanding issues plaguing the jail system. 

The hearing started at 2 p.m. and was very contentious. The judge opened up the door for a receiver by allowing motions for federal receivership. But the legal process is slow — the next hearing date will be in late November, with written briefs that must be submitted between now and then. But with conditions worsening every day, the court should move more quickly. We know that public actions make a difference here and we will continue to organize for immediate action to shut down Rikers!

Here are more details about the Close Rikers March and Rally:

To learn more about receivership check out our receivership factsheet. To join the fight to shut down Rikers, please contact Melanie Dominguez at melanie@katalcenter.org or 516-588-0127.


Next Week’s Close Rikers Phone Zap

With support for receivership growing, we’re demanding that the New York City Council pass Resolution 669, which is sponsored by the NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and calls on the federal courts to immediately appoint a receiver to improve the conditions at Rikers. Join us next week, Wednesday, August, 30th  from 12 – 1 pm for our Close Rikers Phone Zap to urge city council members to pass this resolution immediately. RSVP here.

Have any questions? please contact Melanie Dominguez at melanie@katalcenter.org or 516-588-0127.


Meet our Summer Intern Yatri

This summer we had several interns actively involved in organizing actions, outreach, legislative advocacy, tabling, and much more! We’re highlighting our summer interns over the next few weeks. 

For this week, we’re introducing Yatri, who has been an essential part of our canvassing efforts. Yatri has knocked on numerous doors, made countless phone calls, conducted research, and got her own City Council Member to sign onto Resolution 669. Let’s come together to express our gratitude to Yatri for her contributions during this summer and wish her success in her future endeavors!

If you’re interested in interning with us, please contact Alycia Gay, Director of Operations, at Alycia@katalcenter.org


Katal Quotes of the Week

These are some of the quotes we’re thinking about this week.

“We have a right to protest for what is right. That’s all we can do. There are people hurting, there are people suffering, so we have an obligation, a mandate, to do something.” — John Lewis

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”— Frederick Douglass


For printing and distribution, download the Katal Weekly Update PDF version.

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Email: info@katalcenter.org • Phone: 646.875.8822

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