On May 15, 2017, 27-year-old Jean Jimenez-Joseph died by suicide while detained by ICE. But when his old friend, fellow musician Erik Garlington, heard of his death, he released a song in his memory with his band, Proper.
After the song’s success, they released a music video in 2023, refusing to let Jimenez-Joseph be forgotten.
“They let a brilliant mind like yours / Waste away behind a locked door / Two and a half weeks, four walls / And a cold concrete floor.” The song speaks for itself.
Despite knowing Jimenez-Joseph was at high risk for suicide and schizophrenic, officials put him in solitary for 18 days straight. And in 2021, the ACLU reported that ICE’s solitary confinement had only worsened.
Policy says solitary is a last resort, but statistics show that hasn’t been the case. And not only are Black immigrants disproportionately detained and placed in solitary, but ICE unlawfully destroyed files documenting their use of solitary.
Proper’s video amplifies abolitionist collectives like Detention Kills, advocating for this to change. For Garlington, celebrating Jimenez-Joseph’s life looks like showing the world how much he was loved,and making sure what happened to him won’t happen to anyone else.
Grief is heavy. Especially when carrying it for loved ones victimized by the system. But if we come together, we can fight for that liberated future, too.