In June of 2017, New York City Mayor De Blasio released his plan to close New York City’s infamous Rikers Island Detention Facility over the next ten years. DeBlasio did not have an epiphany of benevolence… his grudging support for closure of the jail came only after years of intense community activism, which turned up the political heat not only on DeBlasio, the New York City Council, police and local judges, but also on state legislators and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo as well.
The citizen-led CLOSErikers campaign has deep roots extending back to the New York City jail rebellions of the 1970’s. Toussaint Losier is an associate professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His latest article in the journal Race and Class, is entitled “Against Law and Order Lockup: the 1970s New York City Jail Rebellions.” Toussaint Losier joins 8 O’Clock Buzz host Brian Standing by phone.