NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There were outbursts of protest Tuesday during a vote in Lower Manhattan over replacing the Rikers Island jail complex with smaller jails around the city.
Protesters chanted “no new jails”, “close Rikers now”, and “shame, shame, shame.”
“You don’t give an f— about black and brown people,” one protester shouted.
“Shame on you, commissioner! And you too, Commissioner [Hope] Knight. I hope you sleep well at night!” said another protester.
NYC Planning Commission votes 9-3 to approve borough based jail plan – despite crowd's interruptions. This was the most raucous meeting I think I've ever covered. Next heads to City Council on Thursday for a public hearing @CBSNewYork pic.twitter.com/R6338KXhia
— Andrea Grymes (@AndreaGrymesTV) September 3, 2019
You could barely hear a word from the New York City Planning Commissioners who just continued talking as protesters tried shouting them down, reported CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.
In a raucous meeting, the commission ultimately voted 9-3 in favor of Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s controversial plan that would close Rikers and set up four smaller jails in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan.
“There are going to be people who need to be incarcerated and we need to make those places as humane as possible, and we need to close the institution of Rikers Island,” said NYC Planning Commissioner Allen Cappelli.
Most of the protesters don’t want any jails at all.
They chanted “blood on your hands!”
“There are alternatives to incarceration. Restorative justice and transformative justice models that are proven to be effective with people, even with heinous crimes,” said No New Jails member Noelle Fries.
The mayor says his plan is to make the system smaller, safer and fairer, putting inmates in their communities and closer to the courts and their families. The plan has supporters.
“We’re turning 12 jails, 12 jails currently on Rikers Island, we’re turning those 12 jails into four jails. When we talk about reform, that’s reform,” said Mott Haven resident Harvey Murphy. “You have to be held accountable for your actions if you commit a heinous crime. Where do you go? You go nowhere? You go to someone’s house? It don’t work like that.”
Three of the four proposed jails would be brand new faciliites located at existing sites: The Brooklyn Detention Complex on Atlantic Avenue, the Queens Detention Facility in Kew Gardens and the Manhattan Detention Complex known as “The Tombs” downtown. The Bronx location would in Mott Haven at the site of the current NYPD tow pound.
“It’s already a lot of chaos. That’s just going to add more to it,” said Mott Haven resident Jahayra Veliz.
The mayor’s office says the preliminary cost estimate is $8.7 billion.
Next up, the plan heads to a City Council subcommittee public hearing on Thursday morning. Ultimately, the entire City Council will vote on whether to approve it. There’s no word yet when that vote will take place.
The city says Staten Island is not part of the plan, since only four percent of the jail population is from the borough.