No Justice, No Peace: Library hosts film viewing & panel discussion
BY GABRIELA MARTÍNEZ AND MARIA D. JAMES — A diverse group of more than 20 people engaged in an active discussion concerning racial inequality and violence following the screening of a documentary film title “No Justice, No Peace. Baltimore 2015.” The film was directed by Ana Laura Pereira and Eric Splinter, and was produced by filmmaker Alvin “Skipper” Bailey.
Produced in Baltimore, the film documents the April 2015 protests that followed the death of Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr., an African American man who was arrested by Baltimore police and later died from severe spinal injuries.
The film is the first part of a four-part series that documents the Freddie Gray trial, the riots following his death, and explores the issues of economic and social inequality in Baltimore.
The screening was part of the Independent Film Series sponsored by the Friends of the Hyattsville Branch and the non-profit Creative Edge Studio,
The documentary shows footage of neighborhoods in Baltimore that are disproportionately poor in comparison to white, upwardly mobile parts of the city. The scenes serves as a backdrop while subject matter experts and social advocates provide insightful commentary on the achievement gap between the rich and the poor in Baltimore.
“If you happen to be poor, there really isn’t much of a Baltimore for you other than the opportunity just to get to the next day if you’re lucky,” said John Morris, dean of Baltimore’s. School of Urban Planning and Community Economic Development at Sojourner-Douglass College.
Using videos taken by hidden cameras, the documentary also captures various instances of police brutality against minorities, including the video of Freddie Gray yelping in pain as he is being hustled into a police van.
“What Skipper is trying to do is set context of what is like being a black man in America,” said Craig Herndon long-time professor at Howard University and photojournalist and founder of Creative Edge Studio.
The film screening was followed by a panel discussion featuring by Bailey and Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui, ISPU Fellow and Primary Investigator for American Muslims Election Project 2016. Siddiqui holds a doctorate in American studies and ethnicity. Herndon, facilitated the discussion.
“We’re trying to look at the reality of these industrial cities to see what is the real issue that has caused this tremendous amount of violence by the state,” Bailey said. “Is there really a solution when you have no jobs, no housing, no health care?”
A wide variety of voices spoke out during the panel discussion. Many expressed concerns with issues of environmental justice, police brutality and questioned systematic violence that oppresses African-Americans.
Dr. Siddiqui mentioned how the Maryland government is funneling money into Baltimore that is being spent on construction of jails, referring to plans to build $30 million youth jail that were approved in May 2015.
Sam Williams, who attended the screening, said she was interested in meeting other people who wanted to learn more about what is going on in Baltimore and “the roots of the disfunction in that community” that led to people to protest.
Some of Bailey’s previous productions include a documentary about Cuba “Under the Radar,” and “Venezuela Rising,” which explores Hugo Chavez’s legacy after his death.
The idea to create “No Justice, No Peace” was conceived after a group of Venezuelan filmmakers approached Skipper Bailey with the idea of creating a documentary about the Baltimore uprisings after the death of Freddie Gray. The movie was screened in Spanish, English and Portuguese in different Latin American countries and has been shown in Telesur (a Venezuelan News channel) twice, Bailey said.
Bailey is in the process of filming the second part of the series which will focus on trial of the Baltimore officers charged with Freddie Gray’s death and the issue of unemployment among Baltimore’s African-American population.