My name is Akeem Browder, and I’m writing to you because on June 25th, the people of Queens will go to the polls to vote in the Democratic primary for Queens District Attorney. I know from experience what can happen when the system isn’t on your side. My brother Kalief spent almost three years on Rikers Island for a minor charge that was eventually dropped — but it was too little, too late. Rikers broke him, and two years after he got out, he committed suicide.
Now, Melinda Katz is running for District Attorney, and claiming she’ll fix the criminal justice system that broke my brother Kalief. Although she’s talking a big game about helping our community now, Katz’s 25 years in politics tell a different story.
Back when she was in the State Assembly, Katz voted to bring back the death penalty twice because she said it cost too much to keep someone alive. And she knew this would hurt our community, because every Black Assembly member voted against it at the time.
On the City Council, Katz voted to create a new crime of gang recruitment—even though experts came forward to say this new crime just give the police more reasons to harass young Black and brown men.
Katz voted to add surveillance cameras in our public schools, even though Black and brown students came forward to say these cameras would criminalize our communities.
Katz also cosponsored legislation that praised the 1994 crime bill— a bill that incarcerated a generation of Black and brown Americans.
Melinda Katz’s record is clear: during her 25 years as a career politician, she cast votes that criminalized our communities, instead of helping dismantle the racist criminal justice system.
Actions speak louder than empty promises. I hope you take a close look at Katz’s record before you head to the ballot box on Tuesday, June 25.