Protesters gathered at New York City Hall Tuesday to call for shutting down the Rikers Island jail complex. The rally came after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dismissed the idea of shutting down Rikers as impractical. Among the attendees was Akeem Browder, whose brother, Kalief Browder, spent three years at Rikers without trial after he was accused at the age of 16 of stealing a backpack. He maintained his innocence and requested a trial. After enduring abuses, including a beating by guards, and nearly 800 days in solitary confinement, Browder was finally released when the case was dismissed. Last year he committed suicide at the age of 22. His brother spoke out Tuesday.
Akeem Browder: “My name is Akeem Browder. I’m here with the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers, along with other coalitions, to demand justice for Kalief Browder, to see that Rikers Island is shut down, from the torturous state that it is to nothing. We don’t want to reform. We don’t want to build new jails. We want our voices heard. If everyone can pay attention to the facts of what happened with Kalief Browder and understand that it can happen to their community members, their loved ones and themselves, as well, if they can understand what happened, then they should be out here as a people to voice their opinion.”