Ocasio-Cortez Street Speech: Turn Rikers Island into Solar Panel Farm 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on stage during the 2019 Athena Film Festival at Barnard College in New York City, March 3, 2019. (Lars Niki/Getty Images for The Athena Film Festival)
Lars Niki/Getty Images for The Athena Film Festival

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) gave an impromptu speech on the street outside of the Jewish Centre of Jackson Heights, New York, on Thursday after the town hall venue she reserved filled up and some of her constituents couldn’t get inside.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a video of her remarks where she told those gathered on the sidewalk that she wants to turn Rikers Island — the site of Rikers Island Prison Complex — into a solar panel farm.

“When we come together, and we decide that we’re going to shut down Rikers and we’re going to turn it, not into a playground for the real estate lobby and not into a playground for the rich, we’re going to transform it into a public good for all people,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “That is what this is about.”

“If you put just 25 percent of Rikers island and cover it in solar panels, we can close every toxic power plant in New York City that was built in the last two decades,” Ocasio-Cortez said, referring to an academic study that makes that claim.

“These injustices aren’t abstract, right?” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Our right to clean air and our right and our access to clean water always falls along the lines of income, falls along the lines of privilege.”

“What we need to make sure is that no child is subjected to asthma because of the family they were born in and the zip code they were born in,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

“That no person should get lead in their water because they couldn’t afford to live in a high-rise apartment,” Ocasio-Cortez said. 

“These are not luxuries, these are rights,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Ocasio-Cortez began her remarks by saying people don’t always have to “activate” to protest.

“We also come together to put together a vision of the world that we want to build for ourselves,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

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