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23 Oct, 2015 17:06

A dozen arrested at #RiseUpOctober protest against police brutality near Rikers prison

At least a dozen people were arrested after protesters gathered near Rikers Island prison in New York City to call attention to brutality towards inmates. The rally was part of “Rise Up October,” a three-day demonstration against officer-involved abuse.

It's unclear exactly how many people were detained by police, but the arrests came as protesters pushed on city officials to shut down the infamous prison complex.

READ MORE: #RiseUpOctober protests against police killing civilians begin in New York

The blockade of Rikers Island marked the second day of the protest, scheduled to culminate Saturday with a rally and march in Manhattan.

“Rikers Island must be shut down!” said Sunsara Taylor, one of the organizers of the event.

Since 1990, the city has settled six class action suits filed against the prison, with corrections officers accused of widespread abuse. The most recent lawsuit in 2015 found a culture of “deep-seated violence” where “adolescents are at a constant risk of physical harm,” protest organizers say.

Two Rikers Island guards were charged Thursday with recruiting inmates to attack another prisoner in January 2014, then covering up the attack.

Protesters carried the pictures of Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old who was arrested and held without charges at Rikers Island for three years – two of them in solitary confinement - before being released for lack of evidence. Citing his traumatic experiences at Rikers, Browder committed suicide in June this year.