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Katal New York Update- November 30, 2023

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On Wednesday, November 15, we hosted a Shut Rikers Panel discussion at nightclub and community space, Nowadays NYC, in Ridgewood, Queens. Our members and staff discussed the crisis unfolding in NYC jails and the organizing taking place to shut down Rikers. The conversation focused on the history of the fight to shut down Rikers; the current situation inside New York City jails; the racism built into the system; the criminalization of mental health; and more.

Check out photos and videos of the panel. If you’d like to host a Shut Rikers panel at your job or organization, please reach out to our lead organizer Melanie at (516) 588- 0127 or 

Katal on Black Agenda Radio 

Over the weekend, our lead organizer Melanie Dominguez joined Black Agenda radio to discuss Mayor Eric Adams’s proposed 5% budget cuts to city agencies and the negative impact they will have on Black, Brown, and low-income communities across the city. She also spoke about our campaign to shut Rikers and the push to get the federal courts to appoint an independent receiver to improve conditions and save lives. Listen to the full interview here!

Katal Testifying at New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice Oversight Hearing

Today, the New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice held an oversight hearing on alternatives to detention and incarceration in NYC. Our director of advocacy, Yonah Zeitz, testified at the hearing about the need to shut down Rikers, fund and support ATI’s across the city, and immediately pass Resolution 669, which calls for federal receivership. Here’s an excerpt of the testimony:

“To be clear, Rikers must be shut down. And this Council must aggressively advance and support every possible initiative to expand ATIs in our city.

But as we have seen, this mayor is a roadblock to closing Rikers. His actions show he does not support ATI programming. And under this mayor, the conditions at Riker have become so severe that a growing chorus of community and political leaders – including former correctional officials – are calling for the federal courts to take a drastic step and appoint an independent receiver to take over at Rikers.

While the council continues its work on fighting for ATI’s, we urge this committee to take immediate action to relieve suffering at Rikers by passing Resolution 669. Until Rikers is shut down, there must be immediate action to improve conditions and save lives, and the DOC is both unwilling and incapable of achieving that task.”

See the full testimony here

Next Thursday 12/7: the December New York Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Call 

Our next NY Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Call is next Thursday, December  7th, 2023! This will be our last statewide call of the year. If you’re interested in learning more about which criminal justice bills on still on the Governor’s desk, the upcoming 2024 legislative session, and the latest on reforming the criminal legal system in New York, this is the call for you. We’ll be joined by organizers, advocates, and community members working on every aspect of criminal justice reform in the state. 

Register to join us on Thursday, December 7th, from 12 – 1 pm.

If you have any questions about the statewide call or would like to be a presenter, please contact Yonah at

Rally to Shut Rikers: Thursday, Dec. 14th at 1pm 

The crisis at Rikers is spiraling out of control. Under Mayor Adams, conditions at Rikers have gotten worse and at least 28 people have died in city jails. We say, enough! We’re taking action on Thursday, December 14th in Manhattan. Can you join us?

On Thursday (12/14), there’s an important federal court hearing about Rikers. As Rikers unravels under Mayor Adams, a federal judge is considering appointing an independent “receiver” — an individual who would be responsible for managing NYC Jails — including those at Rikers — to improve conditions and save lives. Ahead of the hearing at 1pm at Foley Square, we’re holding a rally to make clear that until Rikers is shut down, the federal courts must appoint a receiver to improve conditions and save lives. RSVP here to join us on 12/14 for our Shut Rikers action!

If you have any questions about the upcoming action, please reach out to our lead organizer Melanie at (516) 588- 0127 or 

Katal Quotes of the Week

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

“Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”— Coretta Scott King

“Strong people don’t need strong leaders.” —Ella Baker

For printing and distribution, 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: Phone: 646.875.8822.

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