Jail Protesters Shutdown Local Officials Protest of New Jail

Jail Protesters Shutdown Local Officials Protest of New Jail
by David Greene

In one of the more bizarre press conferences in recent memory, several local elected officials were shouted down and heckled by young protesters– despite both groups being against the new proposed jail.

Young protester Carla Cruz gets into the face of Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., on the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse.–Photo by David Greene

Outside his office, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., was joined by Congressman Jose Serrano, Assemblyman Michael Blake and Arline Parks, the CEO of the Diego Beekman Housing Association, who gathered on the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse on Wednesday, October 3, to denounce a meeting held inside by City Hall officials regarding the proposed jail in Mott Haven.

Parks attempted to speak to members of the media, stating, “We don’t support a jail in our community,” but was quickly drowned out by the mostly young demonstrators, now chanting, “Shame, shame” at the top of their lungs.

Demonstrators from several organizations demonstrate against a proposed jail in Mott Haven.–Photo by David Greene

After several minutes of the chanting and shouting over Parks’ statement, Parks then charged, “Most of these people were more than likely sent up here to kill our message… it is obscene.” Parks even pleaded with one demonstrator, “We’re with you.”

After about 10 minutes, as local television crews began to get impatient, Diaz attempted to take control of the situation, when one young woman began yelling over Diaz and soon stepped up to Diaz and asked, “Do you really stand for the community?”

Arline Parks, the CEO of the Diego Beekman Housing Association confronts a heckler during bizarre press on the new proposed jail in Mott Haven.–Photo by David Greene

Serrano then made his attempt, explaining, “Today we are here because we oppose jails, we’re not here to support the jails…. someone has given out information, someone has wanted to divide our community by suggesting that we’re for the jails, we’re not for the jails.”

A protester fired back at Serrano, shouting, “We’re not stupid my friend.”

Blake then took to the podium, telling reporters and demonstrators, “We don’t want a jail, I hear you sister. We absolutely disagree with this proposal… and we want to be very clear that the meeting that is happening today, it is not being convened by the Bronx elected inside, its being convened by City Hall and the mayor.”

Congressman Jose Serrano attempted to address the crowd despite hecklers who disrupted the press conference.–Photo by David Greene

Having now given up on a joint press conference, each speaker then held one on one interviews with various news outlets. Diaz told one reporter, “How do you tell the kids at P.S. 65 that their going to have a multi million dollar jail right down the street from their school and their auditorium is not even up to par.”

Diaz concluded, “We don’t prefer to have a new jail, but if your going to do that, do it right here where the courthouse is and attach it to the courthouse the same way you do it in Manhattan, the same way you do it in Brooklyn and the same way you do it in Queens.”

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., tries his best to ignore protester Carla Cruz.–Photo by David Greene

Asked why he was not attending the meeting inside, Serrano explained, “I’ve attended many of the meetings and I’m opposed to the jail. Everybody was asking what (today’s meeting) is for, but supposedly they already made a decision.”

Counter-protester Carla Cruz of ‘No New Jails, NYC,’ stated that her organization was joined by ‘Take Back the Bronx’ as well as multiple groups from Brooklyn and Queens.

Cruz said, “Its unacceptable, there are so many better ways to do this then build a (expletive) jail that costs so much money, when it should go to education, there are better things that we could do with that money, but they want to build a jail.”

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