Day 24 - Last Words: Kalief Browder

Day 24 - Last Words: Kalief Browder

" ... "

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

“I think that one can make the absolutely blanket statement that no black man has ever been tried by a jury of his peers in America. And if that is so, and I know that is so, no black man has ever received a fair trial in this country. Therefore, I’m under no illusions about the reason why many black people are in prison. I’m not saying there are no black criminals. Still, I believe that all black prisoners should be released and then retried according to principles more honorable and more just.”
— James Baldwin, A Rap on Race, 1971

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? 

God, there is nothing but despair on our lips. Justice? Snatch the very word from our mouths if we cannot do better than this. Erase it from every Bible, wipe it away from every courthouse wall, and purge it from our fairytale movies. Where is your justice, God? Because it is not here – we are not under any illusions. We wait for you, O God, and for your justice. Come quickly. Our patience grows thin and in the meantime your sons and daughters are dying.
Day 25 - First Steps: Welcome

Day 25 - First Steps: Welcome

Day 23 - First Steps: Find

Day 23 - First Steps: Find