USA: the wall of love outside a jail

A section of the wall had been covered in signs. “Happy Father’s Day Chris B.” “Happy Thanksgiving Luchie.” “I Love You Payroll.” “Stay Strong Hubberz. We Got This.” There were signs in Spanish, posters in Hebrew. Some were handwritten and covered in tape to protect them from the elements. Others were printed on durable plastic. They hung amid scraps of tape, deflated balloons and the tattered remnants of even older signs.

Around 1,750 inmates — mainly men — are held at the Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal jail on the Brooklyn waterfront. Most of the inmates are awaiting trial or sentencing in federal cases. The jail has housed drug dealers, mobsters, operatives for Al Qaeda and extradited drug traffickers from Colombia, like Maria’s husband.

But inmates’ families are also bound to the jail, where they pay weekly visits and gather to celebrate birthdays and holidays — and, lately, to post signs.

The signs are clustered at one end of the low-slung warehouse that faces the detention center, on 29th Street. There is no formal system behind the effort, no Facebook group. Like Maria, who said she had noticed the signs during a previous visit, relatives see them and come back with their own. It’s a gesture of last resort.

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