Akeem Browder, the brother of a Bronx man who killed himself after years locked up on Rikers Island, says he’s jumping into the race for City Hall because he doesn’t believe Mayor de Blasio really wants to shut the troubled island jail down.
The Bronx activist and older brother of Kalief Browder said he’s running against the mayor as the nominee of the Green Party.
“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.”
Browder said his experiences help him understand the problems of everyday New Yorkers.
“You can’t be far removed from the problem,” he 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.”
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.
Akeem Browder said his platform would also include homelessness, schools, and taxpayer spending.
“When it comes to finances in New York, I don’t think there’s proper accountability for how money is being spent,” he said.