Last night, seemingly out of the blue, rapper and businessman, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter dropped the harrowing and deeply disturbing trailer for Time: The Kalief Browder Story on Facebook, a six-part series on the life and troubling death of a young Bronx man who committed suicide after spending three traumatic years on Rikers Island, New York City’s most notorious jail.
Kalief was 17 years old when he was locked up at Rikers, tortured by both inmates and guards (some of the abuse captured on video), and placed into solitary confinement for two of his three years. Solitary confinement has been shown to produce psychosis, especially on developing brains. It has since been outlawed for use on teens in Rikers.
The trailer has only been up for 20 hours as of press time and has already garnered more than 1.7 million views. It begins with Kalief’s voice and likeness in a stark interrogation room with a date stamp of May 15, 2010. On that date, Browder was arrested and accused of taking a book bag, and because his family could not afford the $3,000 bail, he spent years on “the island,” suffering untold abuse.
Browder killed himself shortly after being released.
“I lost my childhood,” says Kalief on the video. “I lost my happiness.”
“We’re the voice,” said Jay Z during an interview about the series. “We’re society. We affect change. We can change everything. … Our voices are stronger than ever. If everyone in this room is like, ‘I don’t agree with this happening to a 16-year-old,’ then it won’t happen again. It’s that simple.”
As reported in a News Roundup last week, the docuseries will make its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January. It will premiere on Spike TV on March 1 at 10PM ET.