The New York City justice system killed Kalief Browder. Browder was innocent of the crime he was suspected of perpetrating – stealing a backpack. The young man spent three years in Rikers Island waiting for a trial, or to be released. Browder would do two of those years in solitary confinement. Video footage shows Browder knocked to the ground by a guard before he’s brutally beaten by a group of inmates. He was 16 years old when they arrested him for stealing that backpack. Those three brutalizing years in the custody of the New York City justice system destroyed this young man. On Sunday Kalief Browder, 22, hanged himself at his parents’ home in the Bronx.
This man is dead because of the actions taken by the New York City police department, prosecutor’s office, mayor’s office and those who run Rikers Island. These people that work in these agencies killed Kalief Browder.
The US Justice Department must immediately begin reviewing all police departments, prosecutors and prison systems across the country. Begin with the obvious problem areas, like Baltimore, Ferguson, St. Louis, NYPD, LAPD, Cincinnati, New Orleans. But don’t stop there, every department should be required to justify their decisions, particularly when those decisions result in an innocent man dying.
Browder was his parent’s child, he was their child, their son, and they deserve something for their loss and I would wish that that something be a systemic response to systemic police and prosecutorial abuse that is rampant in this nation. Police and prison systems are currently, and officially, out of control. And the only entity with the authority to get them under control is the Department of Justice. And there is no better person equipped to do just that than Loretta Lynch. The response needs to begin today.