In the epicenter of Times Square, New York City, an intimate gathering filed into a studio on Wednesday (Mar. 8) for a panel discussion on Kalief Browder’s unjustified arrest and death following a life-altering stint in Rikers Island.
Those who shared their honest thoughts on Browder’s story included executive producers of Spike TV’s latest docu-series on the Bronx native’s life, Jay Z and Harvey Weinstein, and the conversation was moderated by news anchor Gayle King. Director Jenner Furst, broadcast journalist Joy-Ann Reid, comedian Michael Che, and the Browder family’s attorney, Paul Prestia, also weighed in on the town hall.
According to Rolling Stone, Jay Z — born Shawn Carter — spoke candidly on fighting for criminal justice reform and that change can come in the form of pushing for adequate legislation and voting on all levels of government.
“His death is here to teach us to save a generation of kids,” Carter said. “I say this about the movie. It’s hard to watch, but important to see.” Browder was arrested in 2010 for allegedly stealing a backpack. Since he couldn’t place a $3,000 bail, at the age of 16 Browder spent three years in Rikers Island, 800 of those days were crossed off in solitary confinement. He was released with no charges in 2013, but two years later, he committed suicide in his mother, Venida Browder’s home in the Bronx.
Furst also shared that the docu-series will hopefully strike an effective nerve within the audience who’ll then answer a call to action to push for criminal justice reform. “The New Yorker article changed the culture. But to look into [Browder’s] eyes and to see his smile and to see his journey on this David and Goliath story?” Furst said. “That’s going to affect you differently. To understand this in a long-form way and sit with his mother, without looking away? That could change your life.”
TIME: The Kalief Browder Story airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on Spike TV.