Kalief Browder committed suicide at 22 after spending three years on Rikers Island despite never being convicted of a crime. Now his brother, Akeem Browder, is running for New York City mayor with intent to shut down the prison once and for all, per a report from the New York Daily News.
Current mayor Bill de Blasio announced in March that he plans to close Rikers, which Browder says is just "lip service.”
“We have a problem with the way New York is being run - especially by de Blasio,” Browder said. “He knew that would get the people to cheer him. He doesn’t have a plan to shut it down.”
Browder is running as the candidate for the Green Party, touting his proximity to the real people of New York as his primary qualification for the job. “You can’t be far removed from the problem,” he said. “What does running as a mayor include, talking fancy? What it actually involves is knowing the people, and I’ve done that...I’ve marched in the streets with the people in every borough.”
The mayoral candidate has been advocating for the dissolution of the prison system since his brother's death. In an interview with the FADER, Browder said, "I don’t advocate for prison reform. I think we can do better, and New Yorkers actually have the same opinion that we can do better."
"We can reallocate the funds that it costs to keep Rikers operationally funded — we can do better with that money, with new programs for psychotherapy, or mentorship, or use that money to create programs within the community that stop individuals from going to jail in the first place."
The rest of Browder's platform includes homelessness, schools, and more accountability for how taxpayer money gets spent.