Public Advocate Jumaane Williams again demanded that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Kathy Hochul visit Rikers Island, declaring that if the two executives can spare time to hang out with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, they can tour the troubled city jail.
“This morning, they’re showing where their priorities are,” he said Thursday on PIX 11, referring to the governor and the mayor. “I don’t begrudge anyone having some fun, but if you’re going to make time to go to One World Observatory, both the mayor and the governor, you should make time to go to Rikers Island.”
Prince Harry and Markle went to Manhattan on Thursday morning for their first trip to the Big Apple together since leaving the royal family, viewing the skyline from the iconic building and meeting de Blasio and his family as well as Hochul.
Williams — who in 2018 ran unsuccessfully against Hochul for lieutenant governor — said the two New York leaders seeing the conditions for themselves could “spur” them to react with renewed urgency.
“Symbolism isn’t the only thing but it’s important. It’s a humanitarian crisis. If it was anything else in the city and state, you would make sure that you were there as a leader,” he said on PIX11’s morning news show. “Sometimes, seeing things for yourself can spur you into action, because you actually see with your own eyes what is going on.”
“Hearing it is not the same as seeing it, and I know that firsthand from hearing it myself and then actually seeing it,” he said.
De Blasio has not been to Rikers Island — where about 6,000 people are currently detained — since June 2017. As calls grew for the mayor to tour the recently out-of-control and dangerous lockup, where 11 detainees have died in 2021, de Blasio promised to go “when it’s time for a visit,” but wouldn’t specify when.
“What I’ve said is clear: I will be going to Rikers,” the mayor said, when he was asked Wednesday morning by The Post during a press conference about why he hasn’t been to the jail as several other elected officials have in recent weeks. “When it’s time for a visit, I’ll definitely visit.”
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Williams called de Blasio and Hochul not spending time at the jail complex amid the recent turmoil “a denial of responsibility.”
“The mayor and governor’s refusal to see these conditions in person is at this point a denial of responsibility — and an abdication of duty by a mayor who hasn’t visited in his entire second term,” said Williams, who toured Rikers last week. “Any confidence in the mayor to lead through an emergency exacerbated by his inaction is evaporating by the hour.”
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