*Akeem Browder, the older brother of Bronx native Kalief Browder – who killed himself after years of being in solitary confinement on Rikers Island – says he’s running for mayor against Bill de Blasio.
The Bronx activist, a nominee of the Green Party, says he’s running because he doesn’t believe de Blasio wants to shut the troubled jail down, as he has proclaimed.
“We have a problem with the way New York is being run – especially by de Blasio,” said Browder, 34, who blasted the mayor’s belated pledge to close down Rikers in ten years as “lip service” and election-year pandering.
“He knew that would get the people to cheer him,” he said. “He doesn’t have a plan to shut it down.”
Kalief Browder committed suicide at age 22 after a three-year ordeal at Rikers, where he endured beatings and solitary confinement while unable to pay bail on charges of stealing a backpack, which were later dropped. His story lent momentum to the push to shutter the troubled jail complex and reform the criminal justice system.
“You can’t be far removed from the problem,” Akeem Browder 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.”