Akeem Browder feels that his life experiences make him suitable to be the next mayor of New York City. Browder’s worked as an activist and has been homeless, but the one spect he’s most known for is being the older brother of Kalief Browder.
Kalief’s name holds a lot of weight in criminal justice reform circles as he’s a primary example of how the system can negatively affect those who get stuck in it. Kalief died by suicide in 2015 at the age of 22 after spending three years in Rikers Island after being accused of stealing a backpack. His 63-year-old mother, Venida Browder, died late last year due to what some have called extreme grief and a broken heart.
“I lost my mother, I lost my brother,” he told HuffPost. “I have nothing left to lose.”
Kalief would spend two years in solitary confinement and face assault from both inmates and guards. After being released from jail for two years, he struggled with various forms of mental illness.
Akeem Browder has been especially critical of incumbent Mayor Bill De Blasio and his stances on criminal justice. While De Blasio promises that he’ll get Rikers Island closed within 10 years, Browder says it should only take three.
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“It’s not a personal vendetta why I’m running for mayor but if we’re having someone represent the people, it better be someone who isn’t far removed from the people and better understands the people so they can better their lives,” Browder said. “Do what’s right by the people or get out of office, get out of the way of people who want to try and make a change.”
Browder will be running on the Green Party’s ticket and will also campaign to decriminalize members of the homeless community.
“I’ve been homeless before,” he said. “We as New Yorkers still criminalize and monopolize the homeless. To me that’s pathetic and I want to make a change, not just with the homeless but those who come from jail. There’s very little thought put into how we appropriate funds for people coming home and re-entering society.”