From a student: Why I'm putting my body on the line to Shut Down Rikers Island

October 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |



This statement is in response to the call for non-violent direct action on October 23 to shut down Rikers Island prison in NYC as part of Rise Up October.

To say that I am fearless and that I don't care if I'm arrested on Friday would be a lie. I'm terrified. I am. The truth is I've never been arrested and I've never thought much about civil disobedience before. Sure I've marched in the streets and screamed in police officers faces calling them racist pigs, and killers. But I had the safety of the backing of a huge crowd on my side but when I lay down my body Friday morning to stop business as usual on Rikers Island I don't know what will happen. The unknown terrifies me and gives me anxiety. The fact that police have and continue to get away with wanton violence against innocent people scares me and keeps me up at night and makes me think twice about doing civil disobedience. BUT THIS IS DIFFERENT. This moment right here and now is special. The reason I'm putting my fears aside, casting my anxiety off, is because there are youth on Rikers Island who don't get to make that decision. Because I think of Kalief Browder, a young man, who was snatched one night from his friends and family, for a crime he didn't commit and ended up on the torture island that is Rikers Island for 3 years, 3 years, 3 years he spent there the majority of his time in solitary confinement. I'm putting my body on the line for the lives lost to the horrendous place that is Rikers Island. I'm putting my body on the line for the lives currently stuck in the torture chamber that is Rikers Island. And I'm putting my body on the line to wake up the people just a few miles away, living in Manhattan and Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx, to tell them we CANNOT just go about doing business as usual while these kids are left to rot in the horrendous institution that is Rikers Island. I would be lying if I said this is an easy decision for me, because it is not. I struggle with this and I fear this but too many innocent lives are being cast out by this system and too many innocent lives are forced to go through literal hell on Rikers Island. That I why I'm putting my body on the line to SHUT DOWN RIKERS ISLAND. 



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