On Thursday, June 4, a protest was held outside Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), 80 29th St, for 35-year-old federal jail inmate Jamel Floyd, who died in the center on Wednesday, June 3.
According to the New York Daily News, the agency said officers sprayed Floyd with pepper spray after he barricaded himself in his cell at the center and broke a cell door window with a metal object. Floyd’s mother said her son suffered from asthma and diabetes and that jail officials were aware of his health conditions.
Both his mother and father were outside the center, along with Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, Councilmember Carlos Menchaca and many protesters to show their support and anger and to call for change.
“This building behind us represents what is broken in America,” said Velázquez. ”The criminal system is broken and it kills. This is the place where they are supposed to take care of the inmate population. We have been here so many times. We were here in the winter. I was here again in March with the community raising the issue that we believed that this place was unprepared to face the pandemic, COVID-19, among the precinct population. We are tired of the many inequities that exist in this country. We are tired of coming so many times to protest police brutality.”
She then discussed the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and the protests that have followed across the country.
“We have a constitutional crisis,” said Velázquez. “The president that dares to send military forces against the American people. Something is really wrong and someone must organize to fight back.
“I’m sorry because today, I was at Cadman Plaza with the brother of George Floyd and I said [George] died for one reason and one reason only, because he was black. With the treatment happening here of brown and black, we cannot have that stand. Not under our watch.”
Velázquez then addressed Jamel’s parents.
“Mr. and Mrs. Floyd, I know we are grieving with you,” she said. “When we saw in real time the killing of George Floyd, it worked the national conscience of our country. So the question is what are we going to do about it? For 28 years, I’ve been marching, protesting. I’ve been arrested nine times. On my birthday, when Amadou Diallo was killed, I spent the day in jail with Al Sharpton.”
Menchaca also spoke to Jamel Floyd’s parents when addressing the crowd.
“We are here grieving with you today,” he said. “Your son died at the hands of officers that should’ve been holding him and his security in prison. This prison has failed us in this community so many times and you have just heard from a congressmember that has fought for us so many times in D.C.”
On Wednesday, June 3, Menchaca announced that he willI vote to defund the NYPD and reinvest in local communities.
“Our commitment is growing in the City Council to dismantle and demilitarize the police,” he told the crowd. “Our cities are rising up. I hope after you can go to Barclays and join the protest.
“Our bases [can] grow stronger so the council will have the courage to vote for a billion-dollar cut to the NYPD and reinvest it back into our communities. That is how we dismantle the system of racism and oppression.”
Jamel’s father James briefly spoke to the crowd.
“I appreciate everyone that came out. It’s a blessing,” he said. “I feel like crying like a baby but I have to stay strong.”
Floyd’s mother, Donna Mays, also spoke
“No child should have to die the way my son died,” she said. “The last time I spoke to my son was Friday. They murdered him. Have mercy on them. They know not what they do.”
The group then marched to the Barclays Center to join the protests for George Floyd.