Watch: Hundreds Come Out In Opposition to Proposed New Jail in The Bronx at Townhall Meeting

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Last night hundreds of residents from the South Bronx and across the borough came out in solidarity to a town hall organized by Diego Beekman and voiced their anger and disappointment in the city’s decision to dump a jail in Mott Haven or for that matter, anywhere in our borough.

Mayor Bill de Blasio stunned local elected officials and residents last month when he unilaterally announced that a jail would be constructed at 320 Concord Avenue, a site filled with so much history where the former Lincoln Hospital once stood as well as its school of nursing which graduated almost 2,000 black nurses and nurses of color.

The meeting opened up with residents standing up in unison chanting “WE WILL FIGHT, WE WILL WIN!” and was immediately followed up by local elected officials where were invited to listen to residents wishes and demands on the issue.

Only three elected officials showed up, Councilwoman Diana Ayala, who represents the district of the proposed jail, NYS Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo who also represents the district on a state level and US Congressman Jose E. Serrano who represents the area on a federal level.

Shanequa Charles gave an impassioned speech rallying the room together with fists up and recognizing each other as brothers and sisters.

Congressman Serrano was the first elected official to take the podium and expressed his dismay and disgust at how he found out which was through the media like everyone else with nary the decency or courtesy of a phone call.

Assemblywoman Arroyo equally gave an impassioned speech met with cheers from the crowd as she stated that this will not be allowed in her district comparing Mayor de Blasio to Trump for wanting to dump on The Bronx again and not having discussed this with the community or local elected officials who represent the area.

Councilwoman Ayala followed up and began offering a timeline of events and was more guarded than the two due to the flack she received for being more receptive to the jail opening in Mott Haven.

The Mott Haven Herald reported earlier this week that, “After studying a report issued by a judicial commission last year about the need for smaller, safer jails, Ayala said, she came away convinced that Mott Haven can benefit from such a deal, by demanding new schools and affordable housing in exchange for a jail.

“We might have a chance to leverage other opportunities,” she told Board 1 in Melrose at its February meeting, and added that “it’s not the demon that we’re making it out to be. Let’s at least have the conversation.”

Eventually she did not finish her talk due to residents shouting and screaming their concerns and not wanting to listen to what else she had to say.

Ayala stated that we had to listen to each other to get the full picture and she was attempting to provide residents with a timeline of events but the crowd was just not having it at that point and were restless in wanting to get their own voices heard.

Missing from the meeting was Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr who now chairs the powerful land use committee which would have to approve this site for such use, however, Salamanca is vehemently opposed to bringing it to this community and at least we know where he stands on this issue.

The Mayor was invited but clearly doesn’t care about The Bronx so he didn’t show up, Public Advocate Tish James sent in one of her staff members in her place due to scheduling conflicts but he assured residents that they have her ear and she is listening.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer was a no-show also but sent in a representative.

Watch the full video of the elected officials as well as a full video of residents giving calling for no new prisons in The Bronx and no where else for that matter.

It was a proud day to see Bronx residents stand up to our local elected officials and hearing them telling them that we voted you in we will vote you out if you do not comply with community wishes.

Watch the videos below:

Bronx elected officials speak at townhall:

Watch residents speak out in anger:





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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.