February 22 2016
“Shut Down Rikers” Say Two Facing Trial Monday in Queens for Protesting Abuse of Prisoners at NYC's “Abu Ghraib”
What: Rally/Photo Op at #ShutDownRikers trial
As the Mayor and Council Speaker argue over whether to close Rikers Island, NYC's jail known for abuse of prisoners, a trial is scheduled for Monday in Queens Criminal Court for two men arrested October 23, 2015. C. Clark Kissinger & Miles Solay were among a crowd of people who protested at the Rikers Island Jail, demanding that the city #ShutDownRikers.
15 others arrested at the protest faced no criminal charges, but Kissinger & Solay are charged with “Obstruction of Government Administration,” which could carry a sentence of a year at Rikers. Supporters, including the Stop Mass Incarceration Network are demanding the Queens District Attorney drop charges in the case, as the two were engaging in peaceful, non-violent action.
Protesters cited decades of inaction by any government authority to stop guards from beating, killing, raping and abusing prisoners. “Since 1990, the city has settled six class action filed against Rikers due to rampant brutality and gross violations of prisoners’ rights. The most recent (2015) class action suit found a culture of 'deep-seated violence,' resulting in a 'staggering' number of injuries, where 'adolescents are at a constant risk of physical harm.'"
Kissinger, organizer of the first national protest to stop the US war on Vietnam in 1965, said he participated in the protest because, “The Rikers Island jail complex, one of the largest jails in the world, holds approximately 10,000 prisoners. 90% are Black and Latino, many are juveniles, and most are there awaiting trials because they cannot afford to make bail—making Rikers Island a giant debtor’s prison. Rikers Island also remains the site of horrendous acts of cruelty by guards and the wide use of solitary confinement—itself recognized as a form of torture.”