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Rand Paul mourns suicide of young man jailed without conviction

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday bemoaned the suicide of a young black man who was imprisoned for three years without a conviction.

“He wasn’t even convicted! So when I see people angry and upset, I’m not here to excuse violence in the cities, but I see people angry. I see where some of the anger is coming from,” the 2016 contender told Baltimore County Republicans at a Tuesday night fundraiser for his campaign, Bloomberg reported.

The presidential hopeful regularly mentioned the story of Kalief Browder on the stump. Arrested at 16, Browder spent three years in prison on a second-degree robbery charge because he couldn’t post bail, and courts continuously delayed his trial. Browder left Rikers Island prison in 2013 after the charges were dropped.

{mosads}He later sued the city, police, district attorney and corrections officers, alleging, in part, that abuse from inmates and guards left him with mental health issues.  A New Yorker profile of Browder said he tried to commit suicide multiple times before he died Saturday.

Paul connected Browder’s story to the broader distrust of the justice system among black Americans.

“This young man, 16 years old, imagine how his classmates feel about American justice. Imagine how his parents feel. Until we’ve walked in someone else’s shoes, we shouldn’t say we can’t understand the anger of people,” Paul said.  

Paul delivered his address in Baltimore, a city where protests and riots followed the fatal injury of a black man in police custody, renewing questions about race and policing. Six Baltimore police officers face charges for their involvement in the death of Freddie Gray.

The Justice Department has opened a “pattern or practice” investigation into whether the department discriminates in its policing of the city.

Paul charged that former President Clinton and Democrats champion policies that “have utterly failed our inner cities, and utterly failed the poor.”

Paul ran down arrest numbers from Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., where the killing of another young black man by police last summer also sparked violent protests.

“In Ferguson, for every 100 black women, there are 60 black men. That’s because 40 are incarcerated. Am I saying they did nothing wrong and it’s all racism? No. What I am telling you is that white kids don’t get the same justice,” Paul said, according to Bloomberg.

“The arrests in Baltimore are 15 to 1 black to white for marijuana arrests.”

Paul has made a point of reaching out to minority communities and criticizing the GOP establishment for not do so.

But during his first comments after the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore, he drew flak for telling conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham he was “glad” his train didn’t stop off in Baltimore as he traveled back to Washington. He also blamed the violence in part on “the lack of fathers.”

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