With all of the news surrounding the closing of Rikers Island, we must remain focused and diligent. Closing Rikers is not the end. It’s the beginning. Agitation cannot stop. It’s important to celebrate the small victories but our Campaign cannot stop.
The city projects it will take 10 years to close Rikers. In those 10 years, we must make sure they aren’t filling the jails with poor people who can’t afford bail. We must ensure that they aren’t torturing people with solitary confinement. And we must make sure that those in need of mental health care are aided. The corrections officers must be held accountable. We cannot have 10 more years of the same Rikers pending the opening of new Jails.
While these years ago by, we can’t sit patiently waiting for the city to do the right thing. We must be active in demanding what we want and what the community needs. Bail reform, ending broken window policing and truly ending stop and frisk must be prioritized. Kalief’s law must pass the Senate. We need speedy trials. A person shouldn’t be punished for the government’s inefficiency. Opening new jails was never the goal. There’s more work to do.
If you watched Time: The Kalief Browder Story on Spike TV over the past 6 weeks, your heart must have broken into a million pieces a million times. This kid, and I call him a kid because Kalief was a minor when he was sent to Rikers, believed in the system. He wouldn’t cop a plea to something he didn’t do. He wanted his day in court. A hard fight that he fought with dignity and a strength that is to be applauded. Ultimately, he paid the price for believing with his life. This system is not for us. But Kalief’s death will not be in vein.
“He is the face of Truth and justice.” – said a heartbroken Venida Browder about her son Kalief. And we believe this. We will continue his fight for justice.
Kalief’s brother, Akeem Browder, along with others, had a vision to not only #ShutDownRikers but to also demand services for the community as well as accountability for these officials and we started the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers. If you’re looking to get involved, or would like more information, please contact the Campaign @ shutdownRikersisland.com.