kalief browder story

kalief story.png

the Kalief Browder story (doc)

6 episodes .. each about 40 min

ep 1 – the system

12 min – jz: it’s a farce to believe that when you sit someone in a deposition.. that you want the truth.. you don’t want the truth

van jones: i think the truth is messy.. because if he’s right you got to look at the police/prosecutors/court/jail-system/solitary/et-al.. he’s got to wrong.. otherwise.. what the fuck are we doing

14 min – kalief: why i’m here (interview) to get my story out there.. because this happens everyday and it’s gotta stop..t

from interview.. he gets love/support from around country.. when in deposition.. it’s suspicion and doubt

15 min – michelle alexander (author the new jim crow): poor folks and folks of color born into ghettoization .. (bronx center of poverty).. in child protective services.. failing schools.. they are ‘the others’.. we allow to exist just on the periphery of our own imagination.. we’re going to have to learn to care about them

18 min – kalief: i’m happy i’m home.. but should i really be happy.. because i shouldn’t have been there.. i don’t fit in anymore

van jones: this is not about truth/justice.. it’s about you being put in a corner .. so when you walk out of that room.. you have no case.. they thought it up for weeks and you are now the mouse in the mouse trap

19 min – prosecutor: when did you find out you were adopted (kalief is just like.. what..? – later said – when i was 12 or 13).. did your parents foster you before you were adopted.. (kalief: i don’t know)

his mom: had about 30 kids in foster care

michelle alexander: kalief was born into child protective services because his mother had been a crack addict and never receiving the kind of treatment that she needed and instead being criminalized.. war on drugs led to really tragic consequences

21 min – van jones: kalief is somebody who has essentially been under state surveillance his entire life..t


23 min – van jones: these kids in urban america don’t have the right to be human..t

nationality: human

26 min – on kalief hanging out w bad crowd (looking for connection after found out he was adopted).. and on stealing a bakery truck.. then.. that kid who has a record.. whether convicted or not

jihad et al

36 min – jeff robinson: (on bail of 3000 – bond 900) – the first thing you can say is.. the significance of a little bit of money.. doesn’t matter if it’s 100 or 1mn.. if they don’t have means to get out..

kalief’s mom: (on 900) sounds like a small amount.. but when you don’t have it you don’t have it.. and i didn’t have it.. and i couldn’t do anything

80-90% cannot make bail

38 min – michelle alexander: our court system isn’t saying they can’t be released to society.. our court system is saying they have to cough up some cash first

40 min – (father could have made bail.. just thought if he/kalief was in riker’s he was bad)

bail denied because violated probation.. he might have been innocent.. but that has to play itself out

42 min – (on rikers) they only way you’re going to come home to your family is to plead guilty whether or not you did it.. if you’ve been to riker’s island.. you would plead guilty to anything to get off something that violent/frightening

kalief: i didn’t do it.. you’re not going to make me say i did something just to go home.. if i gotta stay in here just to prove that i’m innocent.. then so be it

ep 2 – the island 

the officers allow inmates to beat up other inmates.. it’s part of the ‘program’

paul: (on officers at rikers) they have this discretion to do whatever they want to these people.. and they did it to kalief

4 min – on adolescents.. robbing joy from one another.. earlier comment on rikers being like lord of the flies.. rikers island has a predatory population.. usually the younger inmates

that has nothing to do with some age of a human.. we created all that..

5 min – animalescents.. that’s what the co’s (correction officers) call them.. that’s what they called us.. animals

inmate: i’m in a negative environ.. and this is how i survive

same w lord of flies

9 min – if you don’t agree to ‘the program’.. ‘with it’.. then you’re prone to being jumped.. they keep jumping you till you say.. i’m w the program.. i’m going to give up my stuff.. a large % of co’s are part of the program as well

11 min – we did unconventional things to get inmates to cooperate

13 min – rikers named after richard riker – in charge of court system in nyc – the spider at the center of a web of bounty hunting rings..kidnapping escaped slaves.. even children.. kidnapped and sold into slavery.. a few yrs later.. and it’s still happening

very seldom did i see a white inmate come to rikers.. and if he did.. he didn’t stay long

14 min – van jones: if you have enough money.. you can go home.. but if you’re poor you have to sit here until your trial or until you plead..

people are sitting in jail for year.. legally innocent but awaiting trial.. their crime is that they’re poor

the majority of people in rikers are there because they cannot pay bail of 1000 or less

14 – took kalief’s mom 2 weeks to raise 900.. by then they had put a hold on kalief/bail

juliani and bloomberg.. expanded all the problems in ny to rikers.. w stop and frisk

19 min – akeem: kalief had to change.. and this is what the system does to people

prisons/jails are hidden away.. you don’t know what’s going on in there.. and that gets to the heart of the corruption fo rikers

25 min – on officers bringing in blades/drugs

31 min – van jones: when he was on the streets he was gang affiliated (joined after his dad left).. when he was in jail he refused to be gang affiliated.. people say.. see.. he was in a gang.. then he wasn’t .. is he good/bad? he’s a kid.. it doesn’t make him a horrible person that when he was in pain he turned to the streets.. what it does it makes him human.. the whole time.. and everybody loses track of that

41 min – solitary called – bing – because the brain goes – bing.. like dying with your eyes open

ep 3 – the bing

he said no.. i want to make the system work

van jones: it doesn’t mean he’s a perfect person.. but the stand that he took was perfect

3 min – paul: the bigger picture is solitary itself..

6 min – un defines longer than 15 days of solitary as torture.. when kalief was 17.. his first extended stay in solitary was over 300 days straight

8 min – this is somehow a rational way to deal with someone who may have stole someone’s backpack.. legally innocent.. but unable to walk out that door

right to speedy trial is 6 months.. kalief – 3 years.. they subtract time due to court delays

10 min – innocent people spend more times at rikers than those that are convicted

13 min – michelle alexander: almost everybody pleads out.. not because they are guilty .. but because they crumble under the pressure

he demanded his day in court.. and they were going to punish him for that

21 min – they are playing a game.. and the game is time.. in all kinds of ways

23 min – 97% of criminal cases are solved by plea

26 min – akeem arrested for attacking women – the bronx rapist – helicopters over head.. after that.. kalief had a fear of police.. akeem served 3 mos in rikers.. and 5 months elsewhere.. now a registered felon

35 min – the worst abuse does happen to the innocent because they don’t play by the rules.. ie: how can you show remorse for a crime you didn’t commit

38 min – law requires animals to be co-housed.. but humans.. solitary

next solitary for kalief – 14 months

we drove mr browder to psychosis.. we did that

ep 4 – the witness

solitary and suicide and cutting.. inmate: cutting.. to create a new obstacle of pain

solitary and suicide

9 min – paul: he was 17 .. i don’t know why they didn’t contact his family .. when kalief attempted suicide

they term suicide attempts as malingering – attempting to get out of solitary – a manipulator to get out of solitary

there’s no lie about killing yourself.. there is not hustle in that

kalief attempted 4 more times

12 min – paul: this wasn’t a complicated case.. w loads of paperwork, wiretaps .. et al.. this was one witness

witness doesn’t even live in country

15 min – witness was brother of guy who had backpack.. saying ‘when police came.. and found out security camera where it happened.. they said ok and just left.. they didn’t ask for a report.. sometimes police.. they don’t do their job.. and i don’t think police did the right thing’

city couldn’t confirm date of 911 call and no report was filed on night of incident.. didn’t follow up following incident

19 min – paul: there was no evidence at all except the victim saying.. it was that kid.. i mean .. he just picked the first tow black kids he saw in the street? (after saying how paranoid of black kids the victim had become in the two weeks)

police officer in street.. acted as judge/jury/prosection

22 min – witness asked brother.. how do you know those are the ones.. wearing same clothes

24 min – never looked at video footage from camera

26 min – victim goes back to mexico because can’t sleep et al

29 min – paul: (on dr’s report after kalief assaulted by co’s) – said he slammed his (own) head into the shower wall.. dr’s in cahoots w the officers.. because no one is going to challenge them..

one of the big problems at rikers is a code of silence.. lying.. looking the other way..

30 min – paul: da only opens investigation if someone is basically in a coma

prosecutors knew there was no case/witness..only talked to victim like twice

paul: they knew victim was gone.. but they continue this song and dance

mom: and they try to make him say he’s guilty.. from the day he got arrested

38 min – 2013 – (when court realized they had no case).. offered him to go home w no probation if agreed to 2 misdemeanors..

kalief: sounded good.. but i didn’t do it

mom: to be that close to (release) and have to go back to rikers.. he did it to take a stand

kalief: most difficult decision i’ve ever had in my life.. but i had to maintain my innocence.. so i had to stay and fight

39 min – kalief (answering – how did you find the strength) – to be honest.. it was anger toward how the system was running.. i didn’t think it was fair..t

grammatis broken law

99 out of 100 would plead guilty when in kalief’s situation

van jones: this is an unbelievable guy.. he deserves to be taken seriously

41 min – 1126 days after arrest.. da withdrew all charges

42 min – kalief: i felt relieved.. like best feeling i’ve ever had in my life

but by then.. the damage had been done

mom: the paranoia .. the memories.. it was just too much

ep 5: injustice for all

2am.. they let him out with a metro card

jayz: there was a troubled spirit/soul w him

1:00 – jennifer gonnerman: every single thing that’s wrong with the criminal justice system is in kalief’s story

now i’m on tv and people in my block think i have money.. govt after him.. paranoia

nothing there to help him transition..

we drove him to psychosis and then kicked him out the door

4 min – mom (venida): it wasn’t like my son was home.. the torture he went thru at rikers came with him

7 min – akeem calls paul to go forward on filing against the city

10 min – cops following him – parked around his house.. kalief didn’t trust anybody anymore.. bottles lined up.. talking to them..

he attempts suicide.. then hospital wouldn’t let him out unless he took meds.. back home..

13 min – kalief: i have to catch up with my live.. i didn’t have anything to my name.. so i enrolled in school so i could get my ged

out of a toxic/torture environ into another (kinder looking.. but just as cancerous).. dang ged ness

kalief had it in him.. he wanted to go places.. he was very curious/bright.. he wanted to feel normal

passed ged on first try.. went to bronx community college.. happy there.. doing well.. new life

17 min – jesse spiegel takes kalief on rewilding


Rewilding works with formerly incarcerated individuals offering opportunities to participate in transformational outdoor adventures. We are positioning ourselves to be one of the tools available to re-entry/transition programs. We seek to assist these programs efforts to support their clients, reduce recidivism and provide individuals with direction and hope for the future. (boulder)

18 min – jesse (flies to ny to meet kalief): he needs help .. he’s asking/looking for help

kalief: i just feel like me going somewhere .. maybe i could just let it out and leave it there

kalief: i would love to learn how to climb rock.. about everything involved w nature.. fish, swim, make a tent

19 min – jesse: i knew he was the one we’d select.. but not going to happen for 6-8 months.. there was disappointment.. i think his need was immediate

on hold ness

paul: he wanted to get out there and tell his story

kalief (tv interviewer asks how did you do it): because i know other people aren’t strong and they take the plea .. it happens everyday

26 min – he didn’t want fame.. he wanted justice

after wave of national attention, nyc scheduled 1st deposition w kalief.. first questions: attendance in kinder; who was math teacher; fav subject in 9th grade; did you cut classes.. one thing you learned in sociology; what kind of sports; why wearing beads around your neck;..

kalief: i just felt like everybody was watching me.. trying to put me back in jail.. start thinking cops are everywhere.. in his friends/family/neighbors..

28 min – kalief gets shot in stomach (people in neighborhood thinks he has money et al)

paul: there was just a trail of bad luck.. he always said he was cursed.. like tormented

spends xmas in psych ward in harlem hospital

32 min – kalief to jesse: talking doesn’t help.. i just feel if i could leave.. and do something new..

33 min – jesse: his lawyer (paul) didn’t want him to go on this adventure.. and i guess in the end.. kalief took this advice

oh no

paul: i didn’t want this to drag thru.. w a settlement he could put all this behind him and maybe start fresh.. maybe there’d be an end.. some sort of closure

(his school counselor): kalief never really cared about money.. he needed to get away from it all

37 min – paul: kalief just thought he was cursed.. and he couldn’t overcome his nightmares..

kamal and kalief get arrested for resisting arrest.. kamal: i could see the (horrific) replay going on in his head

38 min – paul: this was a city that fucked him and now they’re doing it again..  ‘maybe he did rob that guy’.. wtf.. the case was dismissed

40 min – paul (on questioning): they were implying that he was lying (about suicide attempt).. i have seen him this angry in a long time

next day he kills himself – hangs himself out the window – june 5 2015

ep 6: the afterlife

jayz: this young man will affect change in a way that we can’t see now

obama bans solitary for juveniles

5 min – he was really trying.. but something deeper was a lot more powerful than anything anybody could do

6 min – mom: night before he took his life.. he was pacing.. said ma.. they warned me .. i didn’t listen.. so my life is over.. they’re coming after me

school counselor: it was a train wreck of events.. he got stabbed/shot/arrested.. and he had to go back to court..

he didn’t want to go back.. they lied to him the first time.. why go again..

7 min – sends text to rosie morning of.. ‘i’m sorry.. i’m really struggling.. so i have to go away for a while’.. rosie: i wrote back and said.. ‘no problem.. i’m here.. i love you’..  so i couldn’t believe it

8 min – kalief to jesse: i just wanted to be an activist.. stand up for thing i believe is right

9 min – (school admin): i could see his growth ..this was not just his case.. he was asking questions of the larger society

14 min – mom: he was here for a reason..i’m just sorry he couldn’t find another way to do it.. why did it have to be him

18 min – paul: admit you did something wrong here.. because that was always kalief’s message.. ‘how many young men have to go thru this’..t


19 min – sister: kalief’s father not signing waiver.. wanting a claim in kalief’s money.. but he wouldn’t give him the bail (he had)

so father’s lawyer causing problems..

father: i would like to go to trial to tell the whole world what they did to my son

mom: to have somebody come along and want to showboat.. not fair to kalief.. so sometimes i go to sleep to keep from thinking

sister: i see my mom declining and it’s hurting me

mom: i’m just so depressed .. i stopped taking my heart meds.. i don’t care if i live or die

mom: the system needs to be changed because there’s a lot of other kalief’s out there

mom: (heart from 25% to 19%.. needs heart translplant.. going to get kicked out of house) right now i just want to sleep.. you go to sleep.. everything goes away

mom: ivy growing over window.. that’s his life right there..

mom: the bad news never ends.. the system slowly/surely caused his death.. and that’s what’s happening to me

36 min – kamal has to give mom cpr – rushed to hospital.. dies

sister: she just wanted an apology..

paul: since venida passed.. lawsuits to city stopped

father sold house 3 days after mom passed.. so kids moving out

raises question.. is system broken.. or is it doing exactly what we designed it to do

michelle: their deaths are on us

kalief: if i would have pled guilty.. no one would have ever heard.. i’d just been another criminal

mayor announces closure of rikers ‘it will take many years.. but it will happen’

yeah right.. why years..


when they see us



prison ed

bryan stevenson

cure violence

cevin soling

peter m – (cure)(city)


matt taibbi