“Mayor Bill de Blasio has repeatedly failed to confront a human rights atrocity right in his own backyard. To live up to his own progressive values of justice, fairness, and equality, he must take action and close Rikers now,” said Glenn E. Martin, President and founder of JustLeadershipUSA. “New York City’s reputation as a sanctuary city is tarnished by the ongoing criminalization of thousands of its own residents who suffer unnecessarily in disgraceful and dangerous conditions.”
The #CLOSErikers campaign has released a TV ad, coinciding with the Mayor’s annual State of the City address, calling on de Blasio to shut down the notorious Rikers Island Jail Complex. The ad is the latest move by the #CLOSErikers campaign to bring attention to the problems at Rikers. It juxtaposes Mayor de Blasio’s promises to tackle inequality and make New York more just with his lack of action to close Rikers. The ad will air at primetime on NY1 for four consecutive nights.
“Rikers cannot be reformed. The problems are so pervasive that the only solution is to shut it down,” said Melody Lee, Director of Strategy and Campaigns at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice. “By refusing to acknowledge this reality, Mayor de Blasio is failing New Yorkers and failing to live up to his responsibilities in leading a city that is a progressive beacon for the nation. It is time to close Rikers and set an example for the rest of the country.”
Nearly 8,000 people are detained on Rikers on any given day. Almost 90 percent of these individuals are Black or Latino, despite making up only 56 percent of New York City’s population, and most come from the city’s poorest neighborhoods. About 80 percent of people on Rikers have not yet been convicted of any crime. Many of the people waiting for their cases to be processed are too poor to afford even minimal amounts to secure bail and instead languish in a facility plagued by violence, corruption, and death.
Mayor de Blasio, it’s time to lead. #CLOSErikers NOW!