There was a New Yorker magazine article in 2015 that was circulating on Facebook about Kalief Browder. I read it several times. An uncontrollable flow of tears streamed down my face as I read it. People sent me the article via private chat. It was awful. Kalief had committed suicide after spending 3 years in jail. 2 of which he spent in solitary confinement. He was never convicted of a crime. Everyone was saddened and enraged. Kalief was too young to die this senseless death and his time at Rikers was nothing short of torture.
Although I still protested occasionally, I had not been active in any organizations for years. One of my former comrades contacted me and asked me to join her in trying to Shut Down Rikers. I said absolutely. I met his brother, Akeem, and many others that shared a passion for stopping these injustices.
Organizing was long and hard. Different projects began because of our interactions with inmates. Humans of Rikers and Women of Rikers to name a couple. Kalief’s law was passed by the State Assembly but has sense been blocked by the Republican controlled Senate.
Kalief and Akeem’s mother, Venida Browder, passed away before she could see the fruits of her labor. I believe she died of a broken heart as was espoused by a NY Daily News article. We are still awaiting justice.
Today, Shawn “Jay-z” Carter brings Kalief’s story to the forefront in his 6 part television series “TIME: THE KALIEF BROWDER STORY” We urge you to watch and share your thoughts. Get your families and friends to watch. Use #KaliefBrowder when posting on social media so we can capture your thoughts.
It is important to understand that the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers does not want to open new jails. We want services in its stead. The building isn’t the only problem, it is the system. So we are committed to demanding that the lawmakers invest in the communities not jails.
On any given day, Kalief’s brother Akeem is working tirelessly to ensure that his brother’s death was not on vain. Each and every day, we all think about Kalief and his heartbroken mother and hope we can give them both justice after death.
Please get involved.
You can contact the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers via Website shutdownrikers.net Twitter @shutdownrikers, Facebook @campaigntoshutdownrikers and Instagram @shutdownRikers