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East Village’s Avenues for Justice program honored with street co-naming

BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL | Spend any time in the Criminal Court building in Lower Manhattan and you’ve probably seen Angel Rodriguez moving through the halls, from courtroom to courtroom, buttonholing prosecutors, lawyers, police and even judges.

Rodriguez is the executive director and co-founder of Avenues for Justice. Started in 1979 with co-founder Robert Siegal, who died a short time later, AFJ is an organization that provides an alternative to jail for youthful offenders.

The ceremonial street sign is unveiled by Edison Taborba at the Avenues for Justice street-naming ceremony. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)
Angel Rodriguez, co-founder of Avenues for Justice, left, greeted Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to the street co-naming ceremony. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

For more than 40 years Rodriguez and AFJ have diverted countless young people away from jail and into  programs so that, instead of sitting in a prison cell, they get a second chance at a productive life in society.

On Saturday afternoon, local politicians, criminal justice advocates and even Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg stood under a broiling sun to honor Rodriguez’s efforts by co-naming a street in his honor.

“We know about the choices we made when we were young,” Bragg said, commending the second chances AFJ offers young scofflaws.

Local politicians, community leaders and D.A. Alvin Bragg gathered with Angel Rodriguez of Avenues for Justice (holding sign with Councilmember Carlina Rivera) at the street co-naming ceremony. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

As she stood in front of the AFJ building on Avenue B at Sixth Street in the East Village, City Council member Carlina Rivera called AFJ, “a model for the rest of the city.”

Gene Porcaro, the former chief of the city’s Department of Investigations, was effusive in his praise.

“Angel is a saint,” Porcaro said. “He has gone through tough times when no one listened to him. He was a beacon for these kids.”

Councilmember Carlina Rivera gave remarks at the Avenues for Justice street co-naming ceremony. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)
From left, city Comptroller Brad Lander, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg at the street co-naming ceremony. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

After Rodriguez had poured champagne on a ceremonial street sign, the plaudits continued.

“The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is honored to be here,” Bragg declared. “I grew up in Harlem during the ’80s. Growing up, a lot of people became justice-involved,” he said of the challenges facing the youth of his neighborhood.

Standing in the doorway of the AFJ building, taking it all in, Rodriguez was both proud and humbled.

“Today is a great day to validate the work I’ve been doing on the Lower East Side for four decades,” he said, “providing advocacy for young people, getting young people back on track.”

2 Comments

  1. Luis A Acevedo Luis A Acevedo May 23, 2022

    Great job, Angel.

  2. Annie Troy Annie Troy May 23, 2022

    Congratulations to Angel and everyone at Avenues for Justice, especially all the generations of kids they have served. And thanks to Village Sun for this wonderful coverage.

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