“It was like standing in a crowded plaza screaming you’re harmless, however nobody is listening and retains passing you by.”
It is not on a regular basis that you simply come throughout a TikTok account like 45-year-old Ricky Lamont Kidd’s. Once I noticed the next video, which now has greater than three million views, I knew I wanted to listen to his story.
At age 22, Ricky was sentenced to 4 life sentences in a Missouri jail — with out parole — for against the law he didn’t commit.
“I used to be a vendor on the time — good man, poor way of life decisions — when my title got here up in a murder,” Ricky informed BuzzFeed. “The true killers’ names got here up as effectively. I used to be recognized to affiliate prior to now with the true perpetrators and I knew the sufferer from dealing. I had an hermetic alibi on the sheriff’s division, nevertheless it was ignored by police and improperly investigated by appointed counsel.”
Ricky was in jail for 23 years earlier than he was lastly exonerated. “It was like falling asleep and going right into a nightmare, besides not with the ability to get up from it for 23 years,” he mentioned. “It was like standing in a crowded plaza screaming you’re harmless, however nobody is listening and retains passing you by.”
Throughout his first 12 months in jail, Ricky confronted immense emotional turmoil, however he knew he wanted to behave quick to be able to preserve his sanity and obtain his freedom.
“I used to be harmless of the crime, however responsible of poor way of life decisions. I owed it to myself to be higher and do higher in order that if ever I used to be in a position to regain my deserved freedom, I might be a productive citizen and an inspiration to others,” he mentioned. “I took applications, facilitated applications, then created them. I had life with out parole, however I might assist others put together for going again into society. I discovered pleasure dwelling vicariously by means of others.”
After pleading for assist for a decade, Ricky’s case was lastly taken by Sean O’Brien, a professor on the College of Missouri-Kansas Metropolis Faculty of Legislation.
“My new authorized group discovered the sheriff who later testified that I might have been on the sheriff’s division on the time of the crime,” Ricky mentioned. “In addition they found that the prosecutor withheld key proof that confirmed who dedicated the crime. In addition they found that the state witness who despatched me to jail admitted that he lied and that he by no means noticed me, however was afraid of who he did see and did not need to inform about the true killers.”
On Aug. 14, 2019, Ricky’s conviction was overturned. He left jail the subsequent day. “I all the time imagined being free once more, it was what stored me going,” he mentioned. “However after I walked out these jail doorways, it felt like I used to be born another time. All the pieces that was stored from me was out of the blue there to be found; like a child’s eyes taking in new issues. A lot had modified; it was like taking in new issues another time.”
Ricky has spent the previous 9 months working with innocence tasks within the Midwest, serving to begin a brand new innocence venture at Gonzaga College, and sharing his story of resilience with the world. He even has his personal enterprise referred to as “I AM RESILIENCE,” he mentioned. “I converse to younger youngsters about poor decisions, to regulation college students in regards to the significance of integrity of their advocacy, and to prosecutors, police, and judges; utilizing my story as a cautionary story.”
A couple of weeks in the past, Ricky’s granddaughter uncovered him to TikTok. Then, his good friend helped him navigate the platform a bit bit extra and satisfied him to share his story. “It was an outstanding expertise to see the sturdy outpouring of assist and love! Wonderful!” he mentioned. “I now see it as a instrument to have enjoyable, join with folks everywhere in the world, and promote my message of legal justice reform and resilience.”
In keeping with The Nationwide Registry of Exonerations, black persons are seven occasions extra prone to be wrongfully convicted of homicide than white folks. When listening to Ricky’s story, it is unattainable not to consider the protests occurring throughout the US which can be a response to the nation’s systemic racism and lethal cases of police brutality.
“Far too usually, blacks are on the heel or ‘knee’ of racist officers or officers,” Ricky mentioned. “And even when it is not immediately racism, it all the time feels prefer it due to the cover-up or disregard for black lives or voices. George stored saying he ‘cannot breathe,’ however was blatantly ignored till he was suffocated to dying. Black folks have been saying the identical and we really feel ignored.”
“I’ve an obligation so as to add my story and my voice. Silence may be seen as an settlement on the facet of the oppressor. I solely hope we go from protest to coverage adjustments! After which present as much as vote come election time!” Ricky mentioned. “A pebble and an indication isn’t sufficient! We should interact on a way more clever and better stage!”
Thanks, Ricky, for sharing your journey and reminding everybody of the resilience inside them.
BuzzFeed Day by day
Sustain with the newest day by day buzz with the BuzzFeed Day by day e-newsletter!