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COVID-19 Update: ‘Endangering staff and inmates alike’: Elected officials stand up for incarcerated Brooklynites

May 18, 2020 Editorial Staff
The Metropolitan Detention Center
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On the front lines of the war on COVID-19, there are many civilian heroes going out of their way, as volunteers and contributors. Also, many who are elected to serve are going the extra mile. In this column the Eagle hopes to give our readers an ongoing update on those fighting in the front lines.

Brooklyn elected officials are standing up for incarcerated New Yorkers. In a joint statement regarding a class action suit being litigated in United States District Court Eastern District of New York against Metropolitan Detention Center, U.S. Reps. Nydia Velázquez; Yvette Clarke; Carolyn Maloney; Grace Meng; José E. Serrano; State Sen. Zellnor Myrie; and Councilmembers Carlos Menchaca and Brad Lander wrote, “MDC Brooklyn has a long, troubled history, but it is increasingly clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded problems at this institution. Most recently, we were alarmed by the findings of Dr. Venters, who visited the site in late April. His analysis suggested that, far from being prepared for COVID-19, management’s practices at the facility are endangering staff and inmates alike, and heightening risk of transmission in our federal prison system.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday announced a COVID-19 Heat Wave Plan to keep vulnerable New Yorkers cool and safe at home, create safer summer cooling options and prevent and respond to power outages. The $55 million program will provide over 74,000 air conditioners to New Yorkers who are 60 years old and older and have income below 60 percent of the state median income. “This summer will be unlike any that New York City has seen before,” said de Blasio. “As the temperature rises, we must protect our most vulnerable from the dangers of extreme heat.”

CUNY colleges are celebrating the Class of 2020 over the coming weeks with a robust array of virtual celebrations, drawing upon a diverse group of speakers from the worlds of government, philanthropy and the sciences. These students fought long and hard to overcome personal challenges, sidestep obstacles and fulfill their academic requirements, only to have their final semester disrupted in unprecedented fashion by the coronavirus public health crisis. “Words cannot express the pride I feel for the Class of 2020, who have endured and overcome so much uncertainty, stress and hardship during these unprecedented times,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.

Brooklyn Academy of Music has announced that it will celebrate DanceAfrica — the nation’s largest African dance festival — through digital public programming, launching May 18. The series of digital offerings will pay special tribute to the people who have shaped the popular festival over the past 42 years. Offerings will include conversations with DanceAfrica creatives and members of the Council of Elders, online dance classes, streams of past performances, the annual FilmAfrica series, and other programs that bring the joy of DanceAfrica into audiences’ homes.

With COVID-19 drastically affecting local breweries, Brooklyn homebrew club Brewminaries has organized Brewing Alone Together, a 24-hour Brew-A-Thon to benefit the NYC Brewers Guild. Brewminaries members, as well as some special guests, will be live-brewing from 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 23rd to 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 24th. Viewers can watch and participate via Zoom (code 165788). Programming will include interviews with professional brewers, educational panels, and beer trivia games with the audience.

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