Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kalief Browder — Teen Imprisoned at Rikers Island for Three Years Without Trial — Dies by Suicide

Some people say Michael Brown was a thug, and that there are conflicting stories about whether or not he deserved to be shot that day. But, one thing that is irrefutable, is that his death busted open the flood gates and is finally forcing the media to shine a light on policing against minorities in America.
For some, stories like these are shocking. But, living as a person of color in America, stories like this are commonplace. It's what black people live with everyday. My own grandfather was arrested for smoking a hand rolled cigarette. And even after he opened it up to show the cop it was just tobacco, the cop STILL arrested him. My grandpa was 73 at the time. This is how we live. I, myself, have been stopped by the police and questioned just for jogging in my neighborhood ON a jogging trail. I've been pulled over and asked by a cop: "How'd you get this car, boy?". I wanted to say something snide back so bad, but my father taught me to always respect the law. Not because they deserve it, but because they have the ability to destroy your life on a whim.
That's how we were raised, and that's what the cops have shown us for decades. And the media, prior to, never had anything to say about it. They always loved to report on the riots that came as a result of these activities. They always talk about how blacks are arrested, but never about how we're targeted by cops who make up crimes to meet their numbers on the backs of blacks.
But, since the Michael Brown shooting, and the protests/riots that have followed, it seems the media has finally decided to show the other side of the coin and what really goes on with black people in America. And it's about time.

VICE News is closely watching policing in America. Check out the Officer Involved blog here.
A young man who was jailed for three years without trial at New York's notorious Rikers Island jail complex, where he was brutally beaten and kept in solitary confinement, died by suicide on Saturday.
Kalief Browder was just 16-years-old when he was detained in May 2010, as detailed in an account by Jennifer Gonnerman last October in The New Yorker. Browder was walking home with a friend in the Belmont section of the Bronx when a police squad car approached. Officers spoke to the teens and said a man had accused Browder of robbery.
"I didn't rob anybody," Browder told the police. "You can check my pockets." The officers searched Browder and his friend and found nothing. Police arrested him despite the lack of evidence, and he was later charged with robbery, grand larceny, and assault. Browder ended up at Rikers, where he was housed with a group of gang members, though he was not part of the gang himself.
Browder was detained in the prison for three years as courts delayed his trial time and again. He spent two of those years in solitary confinement. Through it all, Browder maintained his innocence. The charges against him were eventually dropped.
During his time in prison, Browder was also brutally beaten by both inmates and prison guards, who were filmed slamming the teen onto the ground while he was handcuffed. Surveillance video taken from inside the jail captured multiple other acts of violence, including one incident where 10 gang members beat Browder.
Gonnerman, who maintained contact with Browder after writing about him, visited his family over the weekend. Browder's mother told Gonnerman her son had told her, "Ma, I can't take it anymore."
Browder's lawyer told The Los Angeles Times that he believed the 22-year-old's suicide was the result of "his incarceration and those hundreds and hundreds of nights in solitary confinement, where there were mice crawling up his sheets in that little cell."
"Being starved, and not being taken to the shower for two weeks at a time ... those were direct contributing factors," Prestia said. "That was the pain and sadness that he had to deal with every day, and I think it was too much for him."
He added: "He was a really good kid."
Watch the VICE News documentary, Institutionalized: Mental Health Behind Bars:

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