By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
City Councilman Robert Holden (D-Middle Village) called on the City Council to investigate the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights nonprofit organization for helping to secure the release of a teen accused of attacking a Rikers Island guard.
Rickeem Parker, 18, was caught on video attacking Rikers Island guard Bronoski Jean-Phillippe Oct. 5 inside of the Robert N. Davoren Center which houses young adult male detainees at Rikers Island.
“It seems like it’s open season on correction officers and there a multiple problems with this case,” said Holden.
A week after the attack, Holden said, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights — named for the late former U.S. attorney general and New York senator — posted Parker’s $1,500 bail despite his eight prior arrests for assault, robbery, fraud and weapons possession. The teen was being held following a Sept. 19 assault.
On Sept. 18, the nonprofit announced its effort to promote jail reform, the large-scale Mass Bail Out Action. According to the nonprofit’s website, the effort is an attempt to help incarcerated women and young people who can not afford to post bail at the Rose M. Singer Center and the Robert N. Davore Center at Rikers Island.
The nonprofit’s Mass Bail Out Action — which began Oct.1 and only lasted until the end of the month — is an effort to mitigate a cash-bail system that many prison reform advocates believe disproportionately punishes the poor.
“We were told originally that the RFK Foundation would focus on nonviolent women and minors, which clearly should not apply in this case,” Holden said. “Bailing out this criminal was utterly irresponsible, and I’m calling on the City Council to hold an oversight hearing to investigate the RFK Foundation and the bail system as a whole. Why wasn’t Parker charged with another assault for this attack?”
According to a representative from Holden’s office, Holden will be delivering a letter to the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice signed by several other Council members seeking the probe. The Middle Village-based lawmaker also plans to seek an inquiry from the Department of Correction.
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.