Earlier this month, we learned that Jay-Z was set to produce 'Time: The Kalief Browder Story', a project based on the teen cruelly held at Rikers Island without trial, who committed suicide last year at 22. We've now learned that his mother, Venida Browder, has passed of a broken heart. Venida, a civil rights activist passed after having complications from a heart attack on Friday, Oct. 14. The 63-year-old mother became even more involved in her movement once her son committed suicide upon release from his unjust three year stint at Rikers - the second time her son was taken from her.
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Her lawyer, Paul Prestia, confirmed her passing, telling The Huffington Post, "I think she literally died of a broken heart". In 2015, upon Kalief's release, he hung himself with bedsheets at his mother's home in the Bronx, NY; telling his mother beforehand, "I can't take it anymore." Kalief, having been violently abused by other inmates and guards while at Rikers and serving two of his three years in solitary confinement, suffered with paranoia and heavy spells of depression upon his return home.
"She was eternally saddened by what happened to her son. It was a pain she felt and suffered with every day, but she did try to put her best foot forward. [Venida was an] incredible civil rights activist [who] spoke publicly about Raise the Age [of criminal responsibility], bail reform, solitary and [the right to a] speedy trial. She was incredibly eloquent and graceful in what she was trying to do," says Paul Prestia, laywer of Venida Browder.
Prestia mentioned that Kalief's family had two multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the city that were "wearing on her". According to the HuffPost, one suit states the city falsely arrested, maliciously prosecuted and tortured Kalief while he was at Rikers. And the other accuses the city of contributing to Kalief's wrongful death. Ms. Browder, already having a pre-existing heart condition while trying to grieve the loss of her son, was now attempting to build cases against the city - the added stress inevitably led to her passing.
We here at Hip Hop Weekly send our deepest condolences to the Browder family and would like to suggest that if you or someone you know needs help, to please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.
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