‘Chinatown Ten’ Face Civil Disobedience Charges for Blocking Jail Work

Posted on: May 2nd, 2022 at 5:02 am by

Photo: Sheng Lin

Last month, ten activists were arrested in Chinatown during a protest action against the demolition of the Manhattan Detention Center and its rebirth as a high-rise jail.

The group of community leaders, which included two candidates for public office – State Assembly hopeful Grace Lee and State Senate candidate Vittoria Fariello – were collared for civil disobedience on April 11, as they blocked a tractor-trailer from delivering concrete bollards down Baxter Street. The destination was 125 White Street to erect a perimeter fence ahead of demolition.

Built on the site of four previous jails nicknamed the “The Tombs,” the $2.3 billion correctional facility will be the tallest jail in the world at thirty stories, and with cells for 886 inmates. (It replaces a prison complex that is only forty years old.)

Photo: Sheng Lin

Neighbors United Below Canal, the most vocal opponent of the Borough-based plan, is holding a press conference today, just before the Chinatown Ten appear in front of the judge.

They are: Jan Lee, Irving Lee, Jillian McManemin, Jack Liang, Susan Lee, Howard Huie, Grace Lee, Evelyn Yang, Vittoria Fiorella, Victoria Lee

An administration official of Mayor Adams had previously commented on the Chinatown jail:

We have reviewed multiple proposals to renovate the existing Manhattan Detention Complex building. With the extent of renovations required to bring the building to code and meet the requirements of 2019 laws passed by the City Council, this degree of work would be infeasible. The building is not structurally sound enough to withstand the extent of the renovation required. Moving forward with renovation would introduce the risk of catastrophic collapse, putting construction workers and community members at risk. In addition to the physical safety issues, renovation would also increase the cost to taxpayers and extend the construction period, only prolonging the disruption for the community. The environmental impacts of renovation would be equal or greater to that from new construction. We have engaged deeply with the community, pausing construction for over a month at the community’s request to review alternative proposals. Even with the month-long delay, we will close Rikers on time, as required by laws passed by the City Council.

Photo: Sheng Lin

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