posted this news.
The Mayor of New York, who had made changes in response to the initial story, today vowed more reforms.
We hardly needed more evidence to know that the entire police and prison system is enveloped in darkness. In many places in America, corruption that apparently reaches into district attorney and judicial offices, institutionalized cruelty, and the phenomenon of police departments acting as autonomous agencies that rule by their own law have become startlingly clear. The Guardian (in England of course) has a running count of individuals killed by U.S. police. The count for this year so far is at 490.
But especially troubling about the story of Kalief Browder, who was sent to Rikers Island when he was 16, kept in solitary for long periods without charge, and whose beatings by prison staff and other inmates are documented in video obtained and posted by the New Yorker, is simply how many people had to know what was happening to him, and let it happen, or helped it happen. They cooperated, they said nothing. No public officials responded (and perhaps were never contacted) until the New Yorker story, which was published after Browder was finally released without ever being charged.
For those who believe that human nature is all about individual survival and success, and that cruelty and violence dominate our genetic legacy, all of this must seem natural. That view of human nature is historically recent and short, and is being superseded in our time by science that shows cooperation, empathy, altruism, generosity are just as vital to human nature.
Individual conscience and courage tip the scales, but cultural standards can make a big difference. Law is part of those standards, and the law must take an interest in situations like this that should never happen in this country. Never.
But cultural standards are everyone's responsibility. That not a single person apparently rose to the occasion before Kalief Browder's psyche was destroyed is shocking and sobering. None of us hold our heads high today.
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