Things That Matter

Four Guards At Rikers Island Have Been Suspended Because They Are Believed To Have Let An Teenager Commit Suicide

Four New York City Rikers Island correction officers, including a captain, have been suspended for knowingly failing to intervene in a teen detainee’s suicide attempt for seven minutes. The night before Thanksgiving, Nicholas Feliciano, 18, was jumped by seven other inmates and left with a gash on his face. Instead of taking him to the infirmary, guards placed him in a holding cell where he hung himself from a pipe with his shirt. Whistleblowers from the prison have told The New York Times that one guard actually opened Feliciano’s cell door to find him hanging from the pipe, closed the door, and walked away. A witness told The New York Times that, after Feliciano stepped off the toilet partition, he changed his mind and tried to find the partition to free himself from the makeshift noose. Feliciano hung for seven minutes without any intervention, and it was more than a half-hour before paramedics were able to whisk him away from the prison complex. 

Feliciano was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was put into an induced coma on Tuesday. He has yet to show signs of brain activity.

At first, the Department of Corrections wouldn’t allow Feliciano’s family to visit him in the hospital.

CREDIT: LEGAL AID SOCIETY

The Legal Aid Society, which has taken up Feliciano’s case, penned a letter to the DOC to request charges against the teen be dropped. “This is unacceptable. He poses no security risk and needs his family at his bedside at this critical time,” the letter reads. According to Legal Aid Society, the family had to wait to be cleared by DOC to visit him, were not allowed to bring anything inside his hospital room, or even photograph him. 

In response, the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision canceled Feliciano’s parole warrant.

CREDIT: @LEGALAIDNYC / TWITTER

That meant that Feliciano was no longer in the custody of the state, and his family was free to visit him at their leisure. “We are relieved that the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision canceled the parole warrant pending against Nicholas Feliciano, our client who is still battling for his life at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens,” reads a statement from The Legal Aid Society. The organization maintains that the act is too little too late for the much more serious “concerns over the New York City Department of Correction’s failure to properly screen and address Mr. Feliciano’s mental health issues, which were known to the City at the time of his remand,” the statement continues. 

Feliciano was charged with robbery, but because of his age, the court gave him a short sentence and kept his criminal record sealed. Within weeks of his release, Feliciano had violated his parole by testing positive for drugs, skipping mandated programs, attempting to purchase a gun, and traveling past state lines to visit a girlfriend. When Feliciano arrived at his parole meeting, he was taken into custody and scheduled to be arraigned more than a month later. The Legal Aid Society of New York is using Feliciano as a tragic example for “the need for Albany to enact comprehensive parole reform legislation immediately next session to address cases like Nicholas’, where the alleged violation of parole does not rise to the level of a new criminal charge.”

Feliciano has a history of mental illness, including suicide attempts, says the Legal Aid Society. 

CREDIT: @RENTALSINMIAMI / TWITTER

According to The New York Times’s report, Feliciano was taken out of the general population holding area after getting into a fight in order to get him medical attention. He waited for six hours in a holding cell without medical attention. An hour before he attempted suicide, he was taken out of a two-person cell and placed in a cell by himself. An hour and a half later, he was hanging off a pipe while correction officers stood by. An off-duty captain saw closed-circuit surveillance footage of Feliciano hanging and rushed to take him down. According to The New York Times, an official said Feliciano didn’t have a pulse for two minutes. 

In response, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, “The people in our jails are human beings. Their well-being is our responsibility. These allegations are deeply troubling. The 3 officers and their supervisor have been suspended and an investigation is underway. We’re taking immediate action.” The New York City Council voted October 17 to close Rikers prison complex and the chapter on its disturbing human rights violations.

READ: NYC Determines Layleen Polanco’s Death Might Have Had To Do With Her State In Solitary Confinement

After Tekashi69 Cooperated With Authorities Against His Gang He Now Fears Spending Time In Prison

Entertainment

After Tekashi69 Cooperated With Authorities Against His Gang He Now Fears Spending Time In Prison

6ix9ine / Instagram

Rapper Tekashi69 may have been sentenced to two years in prison last month, but he’s already petitioned the judge presiding over his case to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement for fear of his life. Tekashi, born Daniel Hernandez, was initially facing 37 years in prison, for firearms, racketeering, shootings, and robbery charges. His cooperation in taking down his own gang, the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, reduced his prison sentence to two years. However, this means that Hernandez was transferred from a federal jail to a private prison alongside “various members of the Bloods,” according to Hernandez’s attorney, Lance Lazzaro, in a motion to modify Hernandez’s prison sentence. The term “snitches get stitches” is gang culture canon for a reason and Hernandez’s cooperation ensured the conviction of two Nine Trey gang members, a Bloods gang.

Now, Lazzaro is trying to get Hernandez out of prison by emphasizing that “Hernandez’s safety is still, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, seriously at risk.”

Daniel Hernandez, a.k.a. Tekashi69, hoped that his cooperation would warrant his immediate release from custody after pleading guilty to his charges.

CREDIT: 6IX9INE / INSTAGRAM

Judge Paul A. Engelmayer spoke directly to Hernandez in the courtroom last month when he told him, “Your conduct was too violent, too sustained, too destructive, too selfish, and too reckless with respect to public safety to make a sentence of 13 months at all reasonable,” according to The New York Times. Hernandez pleaded guilty to several shootings and robberies and appeared genuinely remorseful at his hearing. At one point, one of his victims testified about her experience of being shot by Hernandez. “I know I was wrong,” he reportedly said through tears. “I was weak. I was easily influenced. I can’t believe that was me. Again, your honor, there is no apology good enough.”

When Hernandez read his statement to the court, he spotted the father he hadn’t seen in over a decade in the crowd.

CREDIT: 6IX9INE / INSTAGRAM

Hernandez, 23, was giving his measured statement to the court when he visibly started to get emotional. Hernandez told Judge Engelmayer that he just noticed his biological father, who abandoned his family when Hernandez was in third grade, in the audience. The man confirmed and requested that he take the podium but Engelmayer told him that he “squandered” that right “many, many years ago.” 

The man and performer we knew as Tekashi69 has seemed to evolve during his court proceedings. Up until his arrest, Hernandez routinely rapped about gang life and his disdain for the law. Just one day after his arrest, however, he started “snitching” to the federal government on the Bloods.

The judge has described his cooperation as “game-changing” and “brave,” but it also makes him a serious target.

CREDIT: @ALMIGHTYJOKA / TWITTER

“As the court is well aware, Rolland Martin, a co-conspirator convicted in Hernandez’s case, was almost killed in a Bureau of Prisons facility, not for cooperating with the government, but for merely renouncing his membership in the gang,” Lazzaro told the court. Hernandez has not only renounced the gang but has “provided the government with critical insight into the structure and organization of Nine Trey” prosecutors stated in a court document meant to seek leniency in his sentencing. 

“Your cooperation was impressive. It was game-changing. It was complete and it was brave,” Judge Engelmayer told Hernandez during his sentencing, saying his cooperation “brought out the best in you, and you should be proud of yourself for it.” Since the government understands that Hernandez’s cooperation necessitates a lifetime of looking over their shoulders, his sentence has been reduced. With is safety in mind, he was sent to a private facility meant to provide extra security from Blood members. That very security measure may prove to be an obstacle in granting him early release into home confinement.

Now, Hernandez is seeking early release or to be transferred to a community correctional facility (CCC).

Credit: @ACAMBACANI / TWITTER

If his safety wasn’t a consideration, Hernandez would have been committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons until he was eligible for early release or a CCC. However, his cooperation with the government has imposed such a danger on his life, the Court sentenced him to a private facility without as much danger. Still, Lazzaro says that such accommodation has robbed him of the ability for an early release.

“Given the sensitive nature of his testimony as a government witness and his celebrity status, my client will have to take extreme measures for both the security of himself and his family for quite possibly the rest of their lives,” Lazzaro said, implying that a life sentence from a violent gang has already been assigned to Hernandez. 

Hernandez has declined the government’s offer of being placed in witness protection and says he wants to continue making music. In fact, just weeks before his trial, he signed a $10 million record deal. Today, he says he’s thinking of the children who have looked up to him to become an example of someone who can turn their life around.

READ: Tekashi69’s Undocumented Driver Cooperated With Federal Authorities To Avoid Being Deported

The Jewish Community Has Been Attacked In Recent Weeks So The Guardian Angels Are Stepping Up To Help

Things That Matter

The Jewish Community Has Been Attacked In Recent Weeks So The Guardian Angels Are Stepping Up To Help

The Red Berets / Facebook

In the past week, hate crimes have occurred back-to-back. And, it’s not just this week. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a somewhat shocking report in November that stated an increase in hate crimes in 2018. The FBI noted in 2018 that hate crimes reached a 16-year high. We say that the news was somewhat shocking because violence in the United States feels never-ending. If we’re not dealing with mass shootings, we’re dealing with crimes against people because of their background — sometimes both at the same time. Now — as if these actions were taken from a movie — people are taking it upon themselves to fight crime if authorities cannot. 

The Guardian Angels have vowed to patrol the streets of New York City after a slew of anti-Semitic crimes in the state.

Credit: The Red Berets / Facebook

“These attacks are taking place, and the cops have not been proactive at all,” Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, told NBC News. “It comes from City Hall and the mayor. He’s been just apathetic.” 

“We’re a visual deterrence in our red berets and our red satin jackets,” Sliwa added. “Nobody’s going to commit an attack when we’re around.” So what exactly will the Guardian Angels do if someone does attempt to commit a crime and they happen to be there, Sliwa responded by saying, “we’ll physically restrain the persons responsible, make a citizen’s arrest and hold them until the police arrive.”

The Guardian Angels is a nonprofit that formed in 1979 and has “safety patrols chapters throughout the United States and worldwide.”

Credit: The Red Berets / Facebook

According to its website, Sliwa founded the group and currently has 12 volunteers in New York City. “The ‘Magnificent 13’ rode the subways to conduct safety patrol. For 37 years, thousands of people have joined the Guardian Angels and created chapters in over 130 cities in 13 countries to protect their communities and improve substantially the quality of life.”

However, not everyone is pleased that the Guardian Angels are taking on a vigilantly stand, especially because the group’s founding member has made disparaging remarks against various groups.

Credit: @rafaelshimunov / Twitter

Political activist Rafael Shimunov tweeted a thread of clips that showed Sliwa making fun of the Jewish community and disparaging the Black community as well. Someone also linked out to a 1992 New York Times story in which Sliwa admitted to faking crimes for publicity. 

Yet, others on social media are praising the Guadian Angels for stepping up and fighting hate crime in New York City streets.

Credit: @MUCKWlTCH / Twitter

One man tweeted, “So glad to see the Guardian Angels still doing amazing work on the streets after so many years. I remember hearing their amazing stories growing up. Thank you @CurtisSliwa and the @GA_DareToCare team!”

Another tweeted, “Love the Guardian Angels but it’s kind of crazy that this is where we’re at. Citizens on patrol duty in NYC. Onus is on all of us to band together and speak up in the face of discrimination and prejudice. Now more than ever. Silence is complicity. #zerotolerance #lovetrumpshate.”

Time will tell if the Guardian Angels will do anything to stop these hate crimes going on in New York and around the country because they’re not stopping anytime soon. 

On Dec. 28, a woman, who was with her young son, reported that she was hit on the head after a woman yelled anti-Semitic slurs at her. Also, last week, police said at least “three incidents of possible hate-based attacks against Jews in less than 72 hours.”

On Saturday night, a man stabbed five Hasidic Jews who were at home celebrating Hanukkah in Monsey in upstate New York. The assailant was arrested in Harlem and charged over the weekend. 

“People inside fought to stop him,” Rabbi Yisroel Kahan, told the New York Times. “It was very heroic of them. They didn’t just let this happen — they tried to defend themselves.”

As we noted, the FBI reports a surge of hate crimes, but we should also mention that the group being targeted more than any other group is the Latino community. 

Credit: @berniesanders / Twitter

“The FBI said 485 hate crimes against Latinos were reported in 2018, up from 430 in 2017,” the New York Times reports. “It said 270 crimes were reported against Muslims and Arab-Americans, the fewest since 2014,” They added, “Hate crimes against Latinos were at their highest level since 2010, when the unemployment rate and border crossings from Mexico were both peaking. Some advocates placed the blame for the recent rise on President Trump.” 

READ: Anti-Semitism Rocked A NYC Subway When A Woman Physically Assaulted A Jewish Woman