Today (May 24), Kalief Browder would have been 24 years old. Unfortunately, his life was cut short in 2015 after taking his own life – his tragic fate after suffering from mental illness triggered by his wrongful imprisonment in Rikers. But in honor of his birthday, Bronx residents are honoring the young man by renaming a popular corner in the New York neighborhood. East 181 St. and Prospect Way is now known as “Kalief Browder Way.”
The new street sign commemorating the name change was unveiled Thursday at 10 a.m. by neighborhood council members and Browder’s family. Despite the rainy weather conditions, videos posted on social media show a number of Bronx residents paying their respects.
Kalief spent three years at Rikers Island while awaiting trial for allegedly stealing a backpack. During his stay in prison, he spent two of those years in solitary confinement, which ultimately had detrimental effects on his mental health. Despite showing interests in beginning a new chapter of his life after his release in 2013, the damage that was done was essentially irreversible. He took his life at the age of 22 years old.
Before his death, his story was brought to the public eye, thanks to a story that was published in The New Yorker by Jennifer Gonnerman. Details of Kalief’s harsh reality were further brought to light in Spike TV’s docuseries, TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, which chronicled his case from start to finish.
A street sign will not bring Kalief back, but his memory will definitely leave an impression on those who pass through the Bronx. Watch a clip of the unveiling below.