A music video filmed at Rikers Island puts a spotlight on the ongoing issues inside the jail complex.
"NYC's Boldest" by Tay627 shows inmates getting attacked, brandishing shanks, displaying head wounds, and buying weed taped to a windowpane in a DIY dispensary.
While the visual (above) was released at the end of May, Tony Yayo gave it attention during his appearance on Drink Champs this month, saying at the 30:45 mark, "The Island [staff] don't even have control. The inmates control that shit. You seen the video of the n***as on Rikers? N***as had the weed store! ... N***as had knives, all that shit. It was a video, a music video!"
The 45-year-old G-Unit alum went on to add, "That's why they wanna shut down the Island, man, that shit crazy."
N.O.R.E. then watched "NYC's Boldest" on a phone while taping. "Yo, this is a live video," he judged. "I ain't gon' lie, the video ain't that bad."
"This video is good," Yayo agreed.
Less than a week after the five-hour Drink Champs conversation, Tay627 dropped a similar sequel, also shot at Rikers Island:
The new visual includes footage of, among other things, the jail's floors being flooded.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez along with fellow Representatives Jamaal Bowman, Jerry Nadler, and Nydia Velȧzquez called for the shutdown of Rikers in 2021 due to the facility's inhumane conditions and a "gross mismanagement" of federal funding. The letter came four years after former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio predicted Rikers would be shuttered within a decade, as reported by the New York Times.
With just hours left for de Blasio's declaration to become a reality, time is running out on a facility that continues to get worse. According to the Times, five people have already died "in city custody" this year. Rikers holds 10,000 inmates daily, of which about 85 percent are pretrial detainees who are being held on bail, the publication reports.
Federal monitor Steve J. Martin filed a report last week urging a federal judge to determine whether New York City, the Department of Corrections, and its commissioner Louis Molina should be held in contempt after an investigation revealed a "disturbing level of regression" in the city's jails, according to the New York Times.
Martin reported that in Rikers specifically, corrections officers abandoned posts, allowed inmates to gather in high-security areas, failed to properly secure doors, and conducted searches where weapons were not seized and were later used.
In the event that the city is held in contempt, it's unlikely that a change of control over Rikers would occur. However, the NYT mentions once more that officials plan on closing the facility. Just this week, federal procecutors urged the federal government to strip NYC Mayor Eric Adams of his power over the jail.
All signs appear to point to the eventual shuttering of Rikers, but when exactly seems to be the hardest question to answer.
By law, the jails on Rikers Island must close by 2027, and the city plans to replace the complex with four smaller lockups based in every borough except for Staten Island.