Throngs of elected officials and human rights advocates rallied Thursday outside Rikers Island where hundreds of prisoners are reportedly staging a hunger strike.
The conditions inside the penal island have long been decried by advocacy groups, formerly incarcerated individuals, and friends and family members of those still on the inside. Yet, according to Christopher Boyle, an attorney and director of data research and policy for the New York County Defenders Service who also served as a whistle-blower on the hunger strike, prisoners are attempting to protest what are said to be appalling conditions and treatment through non-violent means.
A coalition of protest groups such as The Fortune Society and #HALTsolitary were joined by a host of elected officials beneath the Rikers Island entrance sign on Hazen Street and 19th Avenue in order to demand immediate action by the mayor and the Department of Corrections (DOC) in what they are calling a crisis.
“We’re appealing to those who are in leadership in the mayor’s office, and those who have the capacity to influence change on Rikers, to change the conditions that exist on Rikers Island, because currently, it is a place of inhumanity and a place where trauma and pain is housed…” Read more.