I shed many tears writing this for you Kalief. My heart breaks for you still. I am outraged. I am so sorry you were forced to endure all that you did. You and I are the same age, both born in 1993. We were both 16 years old when you were arrested. I was living life amongst my family and friends, as you were being racially profiled and thrown into this awful system. Again, I am so sorry!
I stare so hard at your picture and try to read your mind. I see a ton of sorrow, hurt, despair, and disappointment. The more I stare, the more I wish I could hold you, and tell you it will all be okay. You deserved more. I wish I could have been your friend.
On June 6, 2015, Kalief Browder took his life, just two years after being released from his three year prison sentence on Rikers Island. Rikers Island, is THE worse prison in the U.S. He was only 22 years old. He never had a trial. Kalief was accused of stealing someone's backpack. His accuser, whose story changed multiple times, later returned to Mexico and could not be reached for a testimony.
Kalief you could have taken a plea deal, but you maintained your innocence. That is exactly how the judicial system is able to imprison so many Black males. They are convinced to plead guilty to a crime they did not commit, in order to receive a lighter sentence. You were strong Kalief, you fought. You spent approximately 800 days in solitary confinement, inside of a dark and lonely prison cell. You were tormented and beaten by the guards. They were caught on camera beating you while you were handcuffed. I hope they pay for what they did to you. Your mental health was worsening. Your poor teenage body was becoming malnourished due to the lack of food you received.
We both turned 18 years old the same year. I was graduating high school and beginning college. You were being held in solitary confinement. This saddens me. You attempted suicide a few times in prison. Why did no one save you from this nightmare? The guards even encouraged you to.
I blame our country. You, an American, were failed at being given your God given rights. But, then I remember the constitution was never written for "US". It was never revised to help US. So truly, the system did exactly what it was intended to do....nothing.
You were released from prison five days before your 20th birthday. But, you were not truly free. You were scarred. You did not have the same interests. Your confidence with women diminished. Once you were released, you received your GED on the first try. You were seemingly happy with your new part time job. But, inside you were really empty. You attempted suicide at home a few times. No one wanted you to leave.
"Mom I can't take it anymore", is the text message you sent to your mom on June 5, 2015. On June 6, 2015, you left us. Love, you are loved. My brother, you are cherished. We know you were suffering and fought a long and hard battle. A battle that was never supposed to be yours. Everyone knows you, documentaries are being made about you. Your life was not in vain. I pray you are finally at peace. This was the saddest thing I have ever written, but it was necessary. Kalief Browder, your name will never fade. I wrote this for you. I hope in some way it finds you.