Day 24 - Last Words: Kalief Browder
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Kalief Browder, 1993 - 2015
Kalief Browder was stopped by New York City police while walking to his home on Arthur Avenue in May 2010. He was arrested and charged with second degree robbery, a crime that he insisted he did not commit.
Browder remained imprisoned at Rikers Island in New York for three years, serving almost two of those years in solitary confinement. He refused on multiple occasions plea bargains that would have released him in exchange for an admission of guilt. Throughout his incarceration Browder continued to insist on his innocence and right to a trial. The New Yorker later obtained videos of an officer assaulting Browder and a large group of inmates pummeling and kicking him.
Browder's case was eventually dismissed and he was released in June 2013. He attempted to end his life several times while incarcerated and again after he was released from prison. On June 6, 2015 Browder committed suicide at his family’s home in the Bronx. His last words are unknown.
Sources: The New Yorker, New York Times
Baldwin wonders how long it will be before a black man will be tried by a jury of his peers. The life of Kalief Browder reminds us just how far we have to go. Year after year in prison, all to what end? To force him to admit guilt for a crime he didn’t commit? To keep him out of the courtroom – the very courtroom where a biased jury awaits? Baldwin’s complaint that the jury is unfair is almost unspeakably naive in light of Browder’s struggle for justice. You ask for a jury, James? Hell, we’d settle for any trial at all – especially when what we have now is three years in prison with beatings, abuse, and solitary confinement. For what? Second degree robbery? That he didn’t even commit?