On the last day of Black History Month, a large group of activists, families of the formerly incarcerated, and lawyers with the Legal Aid Society rode on three “Freedom Buses” from Barclays Center in Brooklyn to the foot of the bridge to Rikers Island, which they called “The Bridge of Pain.”
This was a way for them to honor the Freedom Riders, who were young Black and white civil rights activists that rode buses to protest racial segregation laws within public transportation in 1961. This time, demonstrators got off the charter buses and held several signs in support of decarceration while chanting “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Rikers Island Has Got to Go.” The demonstrators were protesting to close Rikers Island, the notorious jail that is continuing to claim Black lives due to its extremely poor conditions.
“Since it’s Black History Month, specifically the last day, we really wanted to honor the memory of the Freedom Riders that rode the buses to fight to end racial segregation and injustices,” said Darren Mack, who is an activist and organizer with Freedom Agenda. “We wanted to try to do the same thing today with what has been going on at Rikers.”
Earlier that morning, it was announced that yet another person died at Rikers, making him the first death of 2022. Tarz Youngblood was found unresponsive in his cell, where he later died at the hospital. The cause of death is being investigated, but protesters today continue to wonder how many more lives this jail will take.