Jay Z, Harvey Weinstein Discuss Criminal Justice Reform at Town Hall Discussion
Jay Z and Harvey Weinstein held a town hall discussion on Wednesday (March 8) following the premiere of the second episode of TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, which aired on Spike TV.
The two executives talked about the need for criminal justice reform in the wake of Kalief Browder’s horrific story, detailing the torture and despair he faced while incarcerated at Rikers Island.
Browder was only 16 when he was arrested in the Bronx for allegedly stealing a backpack in 2010. He suffered through brutal beatings from his fellow inmates, much of which was captured on video. He waited three years — including two in solitary confinement — for a trial that never happened before his case was dismissed in 2013. But Browder never recovered fully from his ordeal. In 2015, Browder committed suicide; a year later, his mother, Venida Browder, died from a heart attack.
"[Browder's] death is here to teach us to save a generation of kids," said Jay Z at the town hall (via Rolling Stone). "I say this about the movie. It's hard to watch, but important to see." Weinstein later added, "[Browder]'s a hero ... he stands against everything."
Along with Gayle King, who moderated the panel, Browder’s sister, Nicole, also spoke about her brother’s strength up until his suicide in 2015. The director, Jenner Furst, added that Kalief's mother, Venida Browder, exhibited "truly inspirational" strength during her son's ordeal.
Jay Z hopes that the documentary reaches not only the parents but the black community as a whole. "You have to watch this and then walk into your child's room and just look at them," he said. The Roc Nation leader feels the problems of the criminal justice system can only be fixed if people take action.
"These government officials? They work for us. They speak to us like we work for them, but we are the power," he stated. "Three million people watched this the first week; we need it to be 20. We need everyone to be talking about this. That's how this stops."