Jail Guard Union Throws Party for Indicted Guards
Last Friday, the Voice has learned, the union for correction officers held a 10-hour fundraiser to benefit three members who were indicted two weeks ago for deputizing teen inmates as enforcers in a Rikers Island jail.
In the fallout that has followed the murder of teen Christopher Robinson, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson got indictments against the officers for ordering a group of teens to beat up other teens at the Robert N. Davoren Center, the area where young offenders are held. They called their operation, "The Program." Robinson was beaten to death for refusing to go along with "The Program," officials have said.
The fundraising party for the indicted jail guards was held from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. at a Queens nightclub called De River, which bills itself as the "hottest Caribbean Themed" club in the city. More than 400 correction officers attended, paying $30 at the door, and raising $13,000 for the families of the indicted officers.
Fliers announcing the fundraiser were posted last week, but jail officials in some cases ordered the fliers to be taken down.
The indictments have caused anger among a segment of correction officers, some of whom wanted to stand in silent protest at the arraignment two weeks ago of their fellow officers. And union chief Norman Seabrook has said the officers are being "scapegoated."
Discussing the fundraiser, Correction Officers Benevolent Association spokesman Michael Skelly explained that the union cannot use its funds to post bail for the indicted officers
"We don't believe they are guilty of any wrongdoing," he said. "We were concerned about the officers and their family members, so we felt it imperative to create something when individual officers could support them."
"Certainly, I think it is widely believed amongst the correction officers that this was a totally unprecedented, unfair bail amount in the first place," he added. "These are blue collar municipal workers who are not millionaires living in Park Avenue apartments under house arrest. We think it was a miscarriage of justice.
Skelly explained that the lengthy duration of the fundraiser was to allow officers from the three different shifts to come to the event.