BP Adams Holds Pow-Wow on Brooklyn Jail Plan
(BROOKLYN, New York): – Dozens of Brooklyn residents gathered late last week at Brooklyn Borough Hall to let Borough President Eric Adams know their feelings about the city’s ULURP proposition to expand a jail at 275 Atlantic Avenue. The land-use proposal is part of a bigger plan to close Rikers Island by 2027 and replace it with more humane borough-based jails.
In May, Community Board 2 members voted “no” on the land-use recommendation at a meeting flooded with protesters staunchly opposed to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to build borough-based jails in four of the five boroughs (Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens). The proposed Brooklyn site will create a new 395-foot-tall building with 1,437 beds in a vertical facility that will sit atop 30,000 gross square feet of retail and community space.
Speakers at the public hearing who included former Rikers inmates, organizers from both Close Rikers Now and No New Jails, lawyers, social workers, and dozens of other locals, were allowed two minutes each to testify. Borough President Eric Adams left mid-way through the meeting, citing other obligations. Almost all of the speakers believed the Rikers Island jail needs to be shuttered; where opinion differed – sometimes sharply – is whether these specific borough-based jails are the solution. Deputy director of the initiative to close Rikers at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Dana Kaplan said the plan is “fundamentally a decarceration effort.”
“We believe this is the largest shrinking of a city jail system in U.S. history,” she said. “Right now we have a historic moment in our city, where we have the opportunity to lead the way on criminal justice reform and lead the way in justice and safety for all New Yorkers.”
Many community members who supported the plan did so with stipulations, saying the community should vote “yes” on the land-use proposal in order to fast-track the closing of Rikers, but the new jails need to be smaller and offer more alternative sentencing programs and youth programs.
“I served 19 months of hell on that penal colony. I support the plan to go from 12 jails across our city down to four borough-based facilities—unlike anything we’ve seen before—but with important conditions that will improve the plan,” community member Darren Mac said. “Any delay or opposition to move forward with this plan is a vote to keep Rikers open.”
Opponents of the plan fear that the government will build skyscraper jails with far more beds than necessary and potentially not shut Rikers down. Many community members reiterated that this specific land-use proposal says nothing about shutting Rikers, so New York City could end up simply building more cells without closing any. Community member Scott Jacobs said that it’s almost unanimous that Rikers should be closed but added the city has not been upfront with the jail population, thus voting on the recommended sizes for the facilities is a bad idea. “Why is this mayor tone deaf?” he asked.
Last week’s meeting was the final in Brooklyn regarding the Mayor’s borough-based jail plan. The next step in the ULURP process: a City Planning Commission hearing to discuss all four proposed new jails. (Source: The Bklyner. https://bklyner.com)
Crown Heights Student Protest: ‘Guns Crush and Shatter Dreams’
(BROOKLYN, New York): Students and teachers recently walked out of a central Brooklyn middle school in a “call to action” (CTA) against gun violence. The walk out, late last week, marked the third year that more than 200 middle schoolers at Launch Expeditionary Learning Charter School organized this protest to raise awareness of the impact of gun violence on young people in the neighborhood.
“I want to make a change, and I want to show people that even kids can go out and make something happen, not just adults,” said a seventh-grader from Bed-Stuyvesant. “Kids want to take part in everything. We can change the world, too.“ “If you want to fight something,” he continued, “you’ve got to stand tall and stay strong.”
While crime continues to fall to record lows in New York City, this year there have been 21 killings in the jurisdiction of the Brooklyn North precincts, that includes Crown Heights and Bed-Stuyvesant, and three in recent months in the area of one Prospect Heights school.
“These people in our community don’t deserve to die,” said Aden, a seventh-grader. After emerging from the school auditorium, the students, alongside their supportive teachers and activists from Save Our Streets, shouted “Peace up, guns down!” as well as other anti-gun violence chants as they walked toward Brooklyn’s Restoration Plaza, where they read poetry, sang, danced and delivered speeches. While the march was lead by students, their teachers were on board with the action and received praise from students for their support.
“My primary goal as a teacher is to have students see themselves as agents of change and to step into the shoes of an activist,” Lindsay Herz, a social studies teacher at the school, told Bklyner. “My goal is for them to see themselves in that way.” Herz said that many of her students have experienced gun violence far too often, some of whom, she said, tell her their parents at times don’t feel it’s safe for them walking to school.
“They’re 12 and 13-year-olds and many of them have lost loved ones due to gun violence or hear shots on their block, and that’s just not something that should be part of their daily lives,” she said. “A lot of this is saying ‘This isn’t normal, this isn’t something we should be experiencing as young people and this isn’t an issue that we should have to speak about.’”
“People get hurt every day, but shouldn’t get shot every day. The facts are if I had a penny for every time a person got shot and I wasn’t part of the situation, I would be rich,” Joshua said in a spoken-word poem. “Guns crush and shatter dreams. This is why I march—to be alive and save lives.” (Source: The Bklyner. www.bklyner.com )
CARIBBEAN TIMES NEWS Brooklyn Elections Focus:
There are several Democratic Primary Elections just around the corner in New York City, with this year’s elections coming up on Tuesday, June 25. The general election is November 5. There’s a second special election for Public Advocate coming up, but there are no primaries after only one candidate has emerged for the Democrats and one for the Republicans, incumbent Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and City Council Member Joseph Borelli, respectively. They will face off in November. Williams won the February special election that gives him the seat for the rest of this year, whereas the November winner will hold the position for 2020 and 2021.
There’s also a second special election, with a Democratic primary coming up June 25, for Williams’ old Brooklyn City Council seat. Farah Louis won last month’s special election, and is being challenged in the party primary by several candidates she just beat out. It’s unclear what the general election might look like in this election. Like Williams’ win, Louis’ win gives her the seat for the rest of the year, but the upcoming special election determines who will hold the position for 2020 and 2021, with the next regularly-scheduled city election cycle taking place in 2021.
Here’s the full rundown of the races that will be on the ballot on June 25.
June 25 Primaries
There is a Democratic Primary in City Council District 45, where new incumbent Council Member Farah Louis, who won the May 14 special election, is being challenged by several candidates: Xamayla Rose, Monique Chandler-Waterman, Anthony Alexis, and Victor Jordan.
- For five 5 Supreme Court delegates slates, there are two competitive Democratic primaries in the 50th and 60th districts. The others are uncontested.
- There is a competitive Democratic primary for Surrogate’s Court judge, where incumbent Judge Margarita Lopez Torres is being challenged by Civil Court Judge Elena Baron and Meredith R. Jones.
- For Civil Court (countrywide), there is a Democratic primary for a position between Attorneys Derefim Bernadette Neckles and Edward King.
- And there’s a Democratic primary in the 6th Civil Court District among Alice A. Nicholson, Caroline P. Cohen, Chinyelu O. Udoh, and Tehilah H. Berman.
- There are Republican County Party elections for male and female State Committee and County Committee positions.