Akeem Browder lost his brother in 2015 and his mother just a year later, but hopes to continue their legacy by stepping into the political arena. As Browder confirmed to The Huffington Post Monday, the 34-year-old is throwing his hat into the ring and running for mayor of New York City.
“I lost my mother, I lost my brother,” he told HuffPost. “I have nothing left to lose.”
In 2015, Kalief Browder died by suicide at just 22-years-old, two years after he was released from Rikers Island Correctional Center. After allegedly stealing a backpack, he was incarcerated for three years, spending almost two in solitary confinement. Suffering brutal beatings from both inmates and guards, Kalief's story gained national attention for highlighting the violence of the criminal justice system. Browder’s mother, Venida, died a year after his suicide in 2016 at the age of 63 after a heart attack.
Now the elder Browder is running for mayor on the Green Party ticket. As a long-time activist who sits on an independent New-York based commission around criminal justice and helped create the New York chapter for Black Lives Matter and the Shut Down Rikers campaign, Browder plans to challenge the incumbent Democrat Bill De Blasio, especially on issues of criminal justice, calling De Blasio’s 10-year plan to shut down Rikers Island “lip-service” ― and proposing to close it in three instead.
“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 told HuffPo. “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.”
Banner photo via ABC News / Democracy Now