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Katal New York Update — February 1, 2024

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Victory! NYC City Council Overrides Mayor To Advance Safety and Accountability

Katal is a proud member of Communities United for Police Reform

On Tuesday,  the New York City Council passed two public safety and accountability measures over the veto of Mayor Eric Adams  – Intro 549A – Ending Solitary Confinement and Intro 586 – How Many Stops Act. For decades, community groups have worked to end the torturous practice of solitary confinement in the Department of Correction due to the immense suffering and devastating harm it causes. Similarly, communities impacted by racist policing have long called for more transparency and accountability around the practices of the NYPD. This was a historic day for Communities United for Police Reform, HALTsolitary, and all the groups who worked to get these bills across the finish line. 

Check out a statement we put out from our director of advocacy Yonah Zeitz in response to this victory for the movement: 

“Today is a major win for communities impacted by Rikers and biased policing, as well as all New Yorkers who care about safety, justice, and accountability—the How Many Stops Act and Ending Solitary Confinement is now law in New York City. Mayor Adams waged a disingenuous misformation against these common-sense bills, and he lost. The City Council rejected the mayor’s push to continue the tortuous practice of solitary confinement and to absolve the NYPD from being held accountable for their policing practice. We applaud the City Council Speaker and Council Members for choosing to side with communities and advance justice, fairness, and transparency in our City.

Check out the full statement here. 

For more information about the rally or our Shut Rikers campaign, please reach out to Melanie at melanie@katalcenter.org or by phone at (516) 588-0127.


Protesting Mayor Adams’s State of the City Address 

On Wednesday, January 24th we protested Mayor Eric Adams at his third Mayoral State of the City address at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. When Mayor Adams took office in 2022, the City was largely on track to fulfill its commitment to close Rikers. But since day one, Adams has systematically stymied efforts to reduce the jail population and fulfill the city’s legal mandate to shut Rikers. Instead, for over two years, his administration has implemented policies that disproportionately penalize and criminalize Black, Latine, poor, and working-class New Yorkers.

At the protest, we demanded that Mayor Adams cut the correctional populations and the budgets used for caging people; shut down Rikers Island; and invest in real public safety: housing, health care, education, and jobs.

Check out quotes from our members regarding the Mayor’s State of the City Address:

Danielle Lynn Shanks-Efuntosin, a member at the Katal Center, said: “I have a son who was sent to Rikers where he was exposed to horrific conditions for months when he should have been sent to get the proper treatment he needed for his mental health. I cannot stress enough that mental health victims are not fully receiving the best treatment or proper supervision at the Rikers Island Jail Complex.

Shirelle Howard, a member at the Katal Center, said: “I did 25 years in prison, and I have been incarcerated at Rikers. I have lived through the horrors that run through these correctional facilities, and nobody deserves to go through that.”

Luke Steele, a leader at the Katal Center, said: “The only way to save lives is for Mayor Eric Adams to decarcerate, shut down Rikers, and invest in our communities. There is no reason why so many New Yorkers are experiencing homelessness or are living in shelters. I’ve been living in a shelter for 5 years since I was released and have yet to be able to secure affordable housing that I can call my own. Do what’s right Mayor Eric Adams!”

Check out the full press release here. 


Two People Die at Rikers in January 

On Saturday, January 20th, Manual Luna, age 30, died while being detained at Rikers. This is the second death in New York City jails in January and at least the 30th since Mayor Eric Adams took office. The death comes as there are growing calls for the federal courts to appoint a receiver to improve conditions and save lives until the notorious Rikers Island Jail Complex is shut down once and for all.

We demand immediate action to save lives. We urge the City Council to  swiftly reissue and pass the resolution introduced by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, which calls for a federal receiver to improve conditions until Rikers is shut down. To learn more about federal receivership, click here. 

Check out this statement we put out from our lead organizer Melanie Dominguez here.  


Katal in the News

  • Today, our director of advocacy spoke with Filter Magazine about the City Council overriding Mayor Adams’s to pass police accountabililty measures and to end solitary confinement.  Check out the full article here.


Katal Quotes of the Week

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

“The NYPD may split hairs over the differences between the level of the stops, but the reality for the New Yorkers being approached and questioned by armed officers is, the experience is terrifying and dangerous. —Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez (killed by the NYPD in 1994).

“The How Many Stops Act is an easy-to-implement reform that will give us the transparency we need to advance police accountability and community safety” —Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell (killed by the NYPD in 2006).

“I feel Layleen found peace and now she can finally rest knowing that the place that claimed her life and where she took her last breath, scared and alone, has come to an end” –Melania Brown, activist and sister of the late Layleen Polanco

“My family and the many other advocates including those who also lost a family member or also lived through solitary remain steadfast in our commitment to advocating for policies that reflect the values of justice, rehabilitation, and human dignity” – Akeem Browder, brother of the late Kalief Browder


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download the Katal Weekly Update PDF version.

Katal works to strengthen the people, policies, institutions, and movements that advance equity, health, and justice. Join us: web, Twitter, Facebook! Email: info@katalcenter.org Phone: 646.875.8822.

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