In 2010, Kalief Browder was arrested for supposedly attempting to steal a backpack. He denied that he had done so but was still arrested and sent to Rikers Island, where he spent three years waiting for a trial. He was sixteen at the time. He was finally released in 2013 and was never convicted of any crime and never even went to trial for one. He was, quite simply, unjustly and unlawfully imprisoned, placed in solitary confinement for two years, and beaten multiple times by prison guards.
On Saturday, June 6, Kalief Browder committed suicide. He had already attempted to do so several times while in prison and once released. He had also been placed in a psychiatric ward several times, suffered panic attacks, and was unable to go to school. He was irreparably damaged by his unjust and unlawful imprisonment.
Today, June 8, Shaun King, the online social activist, memorialized Kalief by reminding us what he had to endure. You can read the full post here or see screenshots below. As you read, try to square the reality of what happened with our understanding of America as the land of the free and home of the brave. I doubt you’ll succeed.