Protesters demand feds take over Rikers as federal judge's decision looms

Protesters in Foley Square observed a minute of silence in memory of the 18 Rikers Island detainees who died in custody this year.
Protesters in Foley Square observed a moment of silence in memory of the 18 people who have died in custody at Rikers Island so far this year. Photo credit Roger Stern

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — It wasn't just about who controls Rikers Island, though protesters in Foley Square said they want a federal takeover — it's about closing the jail for good.

Melanie Dominguez, who spoke at the Katal Center for Equity, Health and Justice rally on Thursday, is focusing on the tragedies at the notorious lockup.

"Eighteen people have passed away this year alone," said Dominguez, a senior community organizer with the Katal Center. "The mayor has done absolutely nothing to keep folks safe."

People held signs for each of the 18 inmates with their names and the dates on which they died.

The Rikers Island jail sign is seen on October 24, 2022 in New York City.
The Rikers Island jail sign is seen on Oct. 24, 2022, in New York City. Photo credit Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Alfredo Perez, a member of the Katal Center, spent 31 days at Rikers.

"We are sick and tired of witnessing our community members getting murdered," he told the crowd. "We are so sick and tired of our loved ones being held at this tortuous jail."

The protesters marched from Foley Square to the federal courthouse, where the jail's future is being debated.

As the judge's ruling looms, the Department of Correction responded Thursday to the latest attack on a Rikers correction officer.

The officer was searching for contraband on Wednesday afternoon when Julius Allen, 23, allegedly started pummeling him in the face, knocking him to the ground, sources and a Department of Correction spokesperson told the New York Post.

According to the sources, two jail guards restrained Allen, an accused murderer, halting the assault but not before 10 of the officer's teeth were knocked out.

A DOC spokesperson told the paper that it was an "abhorrent, unprovoked assault on a Correction Officer who was doing his job and carrying out his duties," adding that the department is "pursuing [the] re-arrest of the person in custody responsible."

1010 WINS has reached out to the DOC and the mayor's office in response to Thursday's protest.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Roger Stern