Gov. Andrew Cuomo jabbed Mayor Bill de Blasio over his plan to phase out the Rikers Island correctional facility over the next decade—insisting the city would complete the task far faster if the majority of inmates were white.
The governor hit his fellow Democrat and longtime rival over the protracted shutdown process at a rally in Harlem celebrating the successful passage of the “Raise the Age” initiative, which will forbid prosecutors from trying teenagers as adults for misdemeanors and most nonviolent felonies, in the new state budget. Cuomo, who draws on much of the same African-American and Hispanic political base as de Blasio, asserted the the gradual approach to closure had race and class overtones.
“Rikers Island is an abomination! And don’t tell me it’s going to take 10 years to fix that abomination. Because when you want to do something you do it, and it doesn’t have to take 10 years,” the governor shouted over roaring applause from the crowd, which included Rev. Al Sharpton and retired Congressman Charles Rangel. “If they weren’t poor people and they weren’t minorities and they weren’t criminals, you’d see how fast they’d close it down, if they wanted to close it down.”