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STATEMENT FROM GLENN E. MARTIN, JUSTLEADERSHIPUSA and GABRIEL SAYEGH, KATAL CENTER FOR HEALTH, EQUITY, AND JUSTICE ON MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO’S ANNOUNCEMENT TO CLOSE RIKERS

Friday, March 31, 2017 (New York, NY) – Glenn E. Martin, President and Founder of JustLeadershipUSA, and gabriel sayegh, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice are leaders in the #CLOSErikers campaign. They issued the following statements in response to the announcement from Mayor Bill de Blasio that Rikers Island will be closed.

Glenn E. Martin, President and Founder of JustLeadershipUSA and member of the Commission said, “Today we made a step in the right direction towards safety and justice for all New Yorkers, especially those who have been harmed by Rikers Island. For too long, New Yorkers – especially poor people of color – have languished in this grist mill, where human rights abuses are routine. Countless failed attempts at incremental reform have proven that the only viable solution is to close Rikers. I am grateful that Mayor de Blasio has joined the progressive majority and is now supportive of the call to close this failed institution. As someone who served time at Rikers and who has a brother suffering there now, today’s news is especially meaningful to me. Mayor de Blasio has finally heard the demands of the #CLOSErikers campaign, and we thank him for recognizing that the problem with Rikers is Rikers. I celebrate this announcement alongside our 135 organizational partners, as well as the thousands of New Yorkers who have supported the #CLOSErikers Campaign. Today, we are standing on the right side of JUSTICE.”

gabriel sayegh, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice said, “We applaud the Mayor for joining the #CLOSErikers movement. Our relentless campaign has galvanized an entire city around reimagining criminal justice. Now is the time for action and we are confident with the Administration on our side we will see it.”

About the #CLOSErikers Campaign:

The #CLOSErikers campaign was formed in 2016 to break the political gridlock and achieve real solutions that are guided by directly impacted communities. Led by JustLeadershipUSA, in partnership with other organizations, the #CLOSErikers campaign includes community groups, researchers, faith and human rights leaders, criminal justice experts, health and housing service providers, advocacy and legal groups and more. Through the campaign, over 130 diverse organizations across New York City have joined together to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio close Rikers. By closing Rikers, New York City can focus on healing and rebuilding the communities where Rikers has brought suffering. The campaign to #CLOSErikers is calling for New Yorkers to boldly reimagine the city’s failed criminal justice system and become a national leader in ending mass incarceration. www.closerikers.org

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CONTACT: Emily NaPier, emily@justleadershipusa.org or 315.243.5135 Jennifer Fermino, jfermino@fenton.com or 646.734.0320