NYC Official Suggests Naming Rikers Island After Kalief Browder

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced the notorious prison, Rikers Island, would be closing within the next 10 years. This news comes after reports of corruption, documentaries about mass incarceration in this country and many becoming knowledgeable about the story surrounding Kalief Browder.

Browder was arrested at the age of 16 after being accused of stealing a backpack, which is a crime he did not commit. He spent three years in jail, two which were spent at Rikers Island. He was released in 2013 and in that same year committed suicide at 22-years-old.

Recently, a Jay Z produced documentary series, “The Kalief Browder Story,” debuted on Spike TV and it showed Browder’s time in solitary confinement and the mistreatment he suffered from the officers and other prisoners.

After it was announced Rikers Island would be closing, Public Advocate Letitia James said this past Sunday that she wants the city to rename it after Browder.

“We must do everything in our power to ensure that our criminal justice system is fair, transparent and accountable,” said James during a press conference supporting the closing of the prison.

The intentions behind this seem good, however, this may not be the proper way to honor Browder or his story. Browder’s relatives aren’t necessarily behind this possible move either.

“It’s really appreciative and thoughtful,” said Akeem Browder, Browder’s older brother. “Maybe people will look at the Kalief Island, if they want to dub it that, and remember the tragedy that my brother went through.”

Another one of Browder’s older brothers, Deion Browder, recently voiced his displeasure with the idea of naming Rikers Island after his brother. At a Q&A after a screening of “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story,” on Monday, April 3, he said, “Naming Rikers Island after Kalief Browder is disrespecting to his name.”