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Katal New York Update- September 7, 2023

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International Overdose Awareness Day Rally, Vigil and March

International Overdose Awareness Day Rally Outside theSpecial Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office, 8.31.23 (Photo Credit: M Cencula)

Last Thursday on International Overdose Awareness Day, we joined VOCAL-NY and dozens of community groups, people impacted by the drug war, service providers, doctors, and more to demand divests from the war on drugs and systems of war, and instead, invest in care, harm reduction, and social services that will help to end the preventable overdose crisis and save lives. We marched, held a vigil, & rallied outside the office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office (SNP) to demand that state leaders divest from the SNP and invest in expanding lifesaving harm reduction, social services, and care. Thank you to our allies at VOCAL-NY for organizing such a powerful action! 

For over 50 years, the war on drugs has caused surging preventable deaths, while destroying, destabilizing, and criminalizing Black, brown, and low-income communities. Right now, 18 New Yorkers die every day from preventable overdoses and several of the recent deaths at Rikers were due to overdoes. New York must end the violent cycle of criminalizing drug users, shut down Rikers, and invest in harm reduction and real community safety: housing, health care, education, and jobs. We put out a statement in response to the overdose crisis and a crisis at the notorious Rikers Island jail complex simultaneously plaguing New York.

Katal Leaders Henry Robinson and Anthony Maud Speaking at Rally, 8.31.23 (Photo Credit: M Cencula)

Statement from Anthony Maund, Leader at the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice: “Many of my family members have a substance abuse disorder, and I constantly worry about them. I have loved ones who have died because of an overdose. I personally struggle with an addiction. I’ve overdosed in the past and nearly died a couple of times. I’ve seen the devastation and the impact it has had on my mother. Words cannot explain the hurt she felt when she couldn’t resuscitate me. This is something that I am constantly battling with, and every day I try my absolute best to do better for myself. I am in a community where I am watching everyone around me struggle with an addiction. We don’t deserve to be discriminated against because of an addiction.”

Statement from Henry Robinson, Leader at the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice: “My mother’s husband died of an overdose. It was heartbreaking. I remember when I was younger, he would look after me and protect me from neighborhood bullies. He was just like everyone else, but he never got the proper care he deserved. There are people dying in our communities who are in need of care. The system is flawed and has for decades criminalized people simply because they are battling an addiction. Sending people to Rikers or any other carceral system because they have a substance abuse disorder does not solve anything. Last week, a person died at Rikers due to an overdose. People need proper treatment. It is time for state officials to step in and put in place programs of prevention and of care. No one should be dying because of an overdose.”

Check out Henry and Anthony’s full statements here

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

Tonight’s Monthly Intro to Katal Meeting

Join us tonight from 5-6 pm via Zoom for our Monthly Intro to Katal Meeting! Since our founding, we have remained steadfast in our mission to build leadership and organizing capacity in our work to end mass incarceration, mass criminalization, and the war on drugs. In New York, we currently working to advance efforts to decarcerate city jails and shut down Rikers.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about our history, and current campaigns, and to discuss ways you can get involved! If you know any friends, colleagues, or family members who would like to get to know us, please share our flyer and registration link with them. RSVP here to attend tonight’s 5pm meeting. 

Got questions? Reach out to or phone (516) 588-0127

Next Week’s Close Rikers Phone Zap

Join us next Wednesday, September, 13th  from 12 – 1 p.m. for our Close Rikers Phone Zap to urge city council members to pass Resolution 669, which calls on the federal courts to appoint a third party to improve conditions until Rikers is shut down. We’re holding the phone zap over Zoom so we can be in community together and take collective action as a group. Register to join us!

For questions about the phone zap or to join the fight to shut down Rikers, please reach out to Melanie Dominguez at or 516-588-0127. 

We’re back: September NY Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Call

We’re back from our summer hiatus. Our next NY Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Call is next Thursday, September  14th, 2023! 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, September 14th, from 12 – 1 pm.

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

Katal Quotes of the Week

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

“This is a public health issue, this is not a policing issue.” Hiawatha Collins, board member for VOCAL-NY, said at the International Overdose Awareness Day Rally 8.32.23

“If punishment worked to fight addiction, the condition itself couldn’t exist.” Maia Szalavitz, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction

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

We can’t do this without you. Please support our work to build leadership and organizing capacity in Connecticut, New York, and beyond. Join us: web, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!
Email: • Phone: 646.875.8822

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