More than 20 correction officers were injured in a melee that broke out at a juvenile detention center in the Bronx, union officials say.
The fight broke out in the school area at Horizon Juvenile Center on Brook Avenue, a source first told News 4 New York. Several officers were taken to the hospital with head, chest and arm injuries.
Details about the severity of their injuries weren't immediately available, though one officer was seen with a heavily bandaged hand.
A new state law mandates that 16- and 17-year-olds accused of crimes be moved from Rikers to Horizon, and in the past few days, multiple fights have broken out there, according to correction officials, with both residents and officers getting injured. Twenty-one officers were injured in Wednesday's incident, but more than a dozen others have also been hurt at Horizon since the beginning of last weekend.
A spokeswoman for the Administration for Children's Services, which runs Horizon, said in a statement, "We are in a transitionary period for historic reform that's never been done before, and there have been some incidents involving youth and officers which were quickly addressed. None of the injuries were serious, but we take these and all incidents seriously."
But correction officers claim that those at Horizon are sitting ducks, unable to protect themselves with pepper spray, which is their one self-defense weapon in the jail system.
"The 16- and 17-year-olds that we have in the building, they're violent. They're violent," said Elias Husanudeen, president of the COBA union. "The incident that happened today is an incident that happened between gangs, regardless of their age. We can call them kids, we can call them whatever they want, this place has to be shut down."
Last month, Karen Fox gave up her New York City correction officer job rather than be transferred from Rikers Island to the Horizon juvenile facility in the Bronx run by ACS.
"It was horrible at Rikers, but now at Horizon, it's like 10 times worse than Rikers was," she said.
The union is calling for Horizon to be shut down, but it's unlikely that will happen.
The city's Department of Correction commissioner, Cynthia Brann, said in a statement that the officers hurt Wednesday showed "courage and bravery in the early days of this historic transition."
"Our officers’ health and safety remain our top priority, and we always encourage them to have any and all possible injuries checked out by medical professionals to ensure their wellbeing," she said. "We thank them again for their commitment to their law enforcement duties and their presence in this facility, which will help make this transition a success."