Magdalena Waz


June Bar faced an uncertain future only a few months ago when rumors swirled that it was closing for good. Now, the newly-reopened hybrid cafe/bar is hosting the first of what promises to be many social justice workshops.

On June 6, June Bar will transform into a fundraising and educational space bringing to light the story of Kalief Browder, a local man who committed suicide at the age of 22 after serving a harrowing sentence at Riker’s Island for a crime it turns out he did not commit. The four years he spent in prison were marked by frequent stints in solitary confinement and brutal beatings. 

Organizer Vanessa Quilantan tells Bushwhack Daily that “as an organization, we felt moved to do something to honor his memory. When we actually sat down to put all of our ideas together, it turned into something really special.”

The day of action will include a rare screening of all six parts of the documentary series for Spike TV “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story,” which was produced by Jay-Z.

On top of that workshops will be held all day to discuss ways in which Mayor Bill De Blasio’s announced intention to close Riker’s Island is only the beginning of a battle to abolish the prison-industrial complex and what ordinary citizens can do in order to effect change on that front from letter writing campaigns to audio and video activism. 

When describing the goals of the event, Quilantan said “We want to honor the memory of Kalief Browder, first and foremost. We want to educate our community, engage with a diverse set of direct-action tactics, and keep our neighborhood informed and protected from the threat we face in the prison-industrial complex.”

Forty percent of the bar’s profits from the all day event will benefit Critical Resistance NYC. You will also be able to donate paperback books through the Books Through Bars program. Information about what types of books are most-requested can be found here

The event starts at 11 a.m. and is designed for people to pop in whenever they are available. Facilitators will be on hand to answer any questions about anything you might have missed. 

Photo by Dimitrios Manousakis for Bushwick Daily.