THE BRONX — A Bronx street was renamed Thursday for a young man who committed suicide after spending years in solitary confinement on Rikers Island before charges that he stole a backpack were eventually dropped.
A street sign for “Kalief Browder Way” was unveiled by community leaders and family members on the northwest corner of East 181st Street and Prospect Avenue Thursday morning on what would have been his 24th birthday.
"Today we are renaming E.181St. & Prospect Ave. after Kalief Browder who changed course of history," tweeted Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres.
After several tries, here is the big unveiling of Kalief Browder Way on the corner of E.181 St. & Prospect Ave. pic.twitter.com/hRGCK0EQAt— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) May 25, 2017
Browder took his life at 22 years old in 2015, two years after he was released from Rikers Island, where he was imprisoned for three years on charges he stole a backpack. His family could not afford his $3,000 bail.
He maintained his innocence the entire time and refused to take a plea deal. His case never went to trial and the charges against Browder were eventually dropped.
The young Bronx man was repeatedly assaulted by correction officers and inmates, advocates said, and tried to commit suicide several times while in custody.
After his death, the city ended solitary confinement for people younger than 21 years old and announced a plan to move 16- and 17-year-olds off Rikers.
Browder's family was joined by elected officials including Torres, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Comptroller Scott Stringer.