Between 500 to 2,000 people came together over the weekend to protest the 40-story “mega jail” that is scheduled to be built in the heart of New York City’s Chinatown.
In 2017, former Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed an $8.3 billion borough-based jail program which included building the tallest jail in the world in Chinatown. Between 2018 and 2019, the mega jail’s location shifted from 80 Centre Street to 125 White St. After more deliberation, a new plan arose to demolish the Manhattan Detention Complex (known as “The Tombs”) and build the world’s tallest jail in its place.
Concerns were raised over the proposed jail’s placement, with protestors believing it would pose a threat to a historically rich Chinatown known for having a large elderly population. The new jail would stand next to the Chung Pak senior residence center.
On Sunday, Neighbors United Below Canal founder Jan Lee and City Council member Christopher Marte led a rally against the construction.
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
“[We want to] send local politicians the message that we will unite to fight against harm in our communities,” the community committee reportedly said.
Protestors marched from Chinatown to Columbus Park.
The new jail is said to modernize facilities that would otherwise be seen on Rikers Island and provide safer living conditions for inmates; however, Marte disagrees.
“If you look at the details of the plan, the new jail will only add 30 additional beds to the site. Why are we gonna invest $2 billion in seven-year construction to build a massive mega jail that’s gonna honor incarceration?” Marte said. “What the community is asking is that you can close Rikers Island, renovate these jails, and save us on the cost and use that money to invest in housing, invest in education, invest in health care.”