Civil rights organizations are holding a vigil for Kalief Browder, the 22-year-old Bronx man who committed suicide this past weekend, 2 years after being released from Rikers. The vigil will take place at the Metropolitan Detention Complex on White Street at 6 PM, according to the organization’s Facebook page. Activists and those who want to share in remembering Browder can use the hashtag #KaliefBrowder and #BlackLivesMatter.
Browder was arrested in 2010, at 16, on dubious charges. It took 3 years for prosecution to throw his case out. Meanwhile, the teen was shipped to Rikers, where he spent nearly 2 years in solitary confinement and was repeatedly beaten. His Kafkaesque arrest, abhorrent treatment at Rikers and subsequent struggles with depression upon his release were chronicled in a heartbreaking New Yorker piece. The magazine later released video of some of the abuse Browder suffered at Rikers. After several suicide attempts both within Rikers and upon his release, Browder tragically took his own life on Saturday.
His horrific experience prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to call for widespread reform at the jail and the bail system. “Once his story became public, it caused a lot of people to act and a lot of the changes we’re making at Rikers Island right now are the result of the example of Kalief Browder,” de Blasio told the Observer. “So I wish, I deeply wish, we hadn’t lost him—but he did not die in vain.”
“There’s just no reason that someone should be held for a long period of time if they can’t pay bail and we can help, a modest bail level like that,” he said.
(Photo: Rose Colored Photo)