Two Democrat councilors say they were harassed and threatened by prison officers on the town hall steps on Wednesday morning after a series of duels escalated into a chaotic screaming fight.
The rallies held prior to the council’s hearing on the law banning solitary confinement in city prisons were to be held over the same two-hour period. But the first rally of union members for city officials was about half an hour late, prompting supporters of the bill to chant “time is up” and demand that they be given their turn on the stairs.
Verbal clashes this happened, and correctional officers who were stuck on the stairs tried to drown out the anti-loneliness rally cheers and taunts. In the middle of it, Sandy Nurse, a Brooklyn council member, has been called misogynistic insults by some corrective officers, the Daily News told Thursday.
“(The officers) called me ‘b — h’, there was a lot of trouble,” said the nurse, a Democrat who helped organize the second rally. “A lot of offensive language was going on there.”
Brooklyn council member Shahana Hanif argued that officers also exposed her to degrading language while she was on her way to City Hall.
“There were correctional officers who said to me and other Council members of color,” Enjoy the gang rape, “Hanif said at the end of Wednesday’s rally.
Hanif was unable to get comment immediately on Thursday.
Michael Skelly, spokesman for the Charitable Association of Correction Officers, dismissed the Democratic Council’s accusations. “The accusations made against some members of our group are false,” he said.
And Benny Boscio, president of the COBA, which is the largest union in the city’s Department of Corrections, noted that at a rally his group had testimony from officers who had been s*xually harassed at work.
“Despite a dozen officers telling of the horrific att*cks on prisoners they suffered, including s*xual assaults, prisoner lawyers and friends from the City Council called us killers,” Boscio said, referring to the scandal at the opponent’s rally that took place: “COBA, how many people have you killed today? “
Speaking of what happened at a later hearing, Boscio added: “Members of the audience also interrupted and mocked us during our testimony. No other municipal workforce made up of the necessary workers should ever be treated in such a shameful manner. ”
Mayor Adams, who missed the commotion because he was in Washington on Wednesday, joined the correctional unions by opposing the bill, arguing that this would make Rikers Island and other prisons less secure.
Adams’s office did not immediately seek comment on Thursday.
Despite the mayor’s opposition, the seclusion bill is likely to become law as it has the backing of a veto-resistant majority in the council, including President Adrienne Adams.
In a statement on Thursday, the speaker condemned the alleged ill-treatment of its members at the rally.
“Recordings and reports of disrespectful actions, some of which are directed against members of this body, are unacceptable, and I am disappointed that the situation has developed this way,” she said. “It cannot be allowed to happen on the steps of the town hall in the future.”
The question remains why NYPD officers assigned to City Hall security did not block COBA members from stopping an anti-seclusion rally.
Skelly said COBA members had been instructed by security to remain on the rally steps and wait to be admitted into the Council room for questioning.
A council member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was New York City Police’s protocol to make sure the duels on the stairs don’t “get out of hand” as they did on Wednesday.
“But I’m not surprised. They’re neighboring agencies, ”said the member, referring to the NYPD and the DOC.
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