Just Mercy Blog

The media source I chose for this post was the movie, Just Mercy. This movie (https://www.xfinity.com/stream/entity/5863072313018904112) was produced by the famous actor in it, Michael B. Jordan and Asher Goldstein and was released on January 10th, 2020. This movie follows the main character, Bryan Stevenson, who just graduated from Harvard and heads down to Alabama to defend the wrongfully convicted. It emphasized the importance of unfair institutions and describes the racism, corruption and cruelty that African Americans encounter on a daily basis.

This movie opens with Bryan Stevenson going to visit his first death row prisoner, Henry. Bryan explains to him how he became so passionate about criminal defense law after he had an internship with the Southern Center for Human Rights. He learned that the system was built to punish the poor more than the rich. His first case he represented a successful black businessman from a poor community in Monroeville, Alabama. He was wrongfully convicted of killing a white woman and sentenced to death row. Stevenson explains that racial bias and presumption of guilt led to Jonnie D’s conviction. He begins his case by visiting his family at their family home to get some insight on what may have happened. Of course, they were hesitant to accept his offer because the previous attorney took all their money and left. Once he explained to them that this is a nonprofit organization and they owe him no money they could not decline his offer. He then goes to visit Jonnie D in prison and when he does, Jonnie shows him nothing but happiness that Bryan talked to his family and is going to help. Throughout this movie we see the openly racist sheriffs, District Attorney and investigators that pursued his conviction. Together they bribed witnesses into false testimony, hid evidence and forced Meyers to testify even after he tried not to. Bryan was doing everything in his power to help Mr. McMillian, from staying up for hours to finding hidden evidence all to set this wrongfully convicted man free. He visits Meyers in prison to maybe get some information off of him, but he gives none. Once Stevenson uncovered the tapes of Meyer’s first statement that he knew nothing about the case, he revisited him at the prison. Meyer’s was hesitant at first but then told him he did frame him. Over this case Stevenson and his associates pursued a retrial, direct appeal, and a postconviction appeal on his behalf. When the D.A said there was going to be no retrial, he was determined to get justice. He sent the new evidence and Meyer’s tapes to the Supreme Court and they allowed a new trial. The D.A. began to doubt the integrity of the states conviction and confirmed that Jonnie D was innocent. In the final court hearing, Stevenson motions for the state to drop all charges and when the judge asked the D.A. he approved.

This movie expands on a lot of what we have learned in this class. Especially the last book we read, Policing the Black Man. Bryan Stevenson, the main character in this movie, is actually the first author to inform us in this book. He explains, “People of color in the United States, particularly young black men, are burdened with a presumption of guilt and dangerousness” (Stevenson, 4).That’s why Meyers was forced to frame Jonnie D, because he was an easier target for people to believe he was the murderer. We also see a lot of corruption throughout this movie towards the black community. In Angela Davis’s chapter she explains that, “Cops appear to be omnipresent and omnipotent. They seem to be everywhere, and they appear to have the power to do whatever they want-especially in black neighborhoods” (Davis, 178). One example from the movie that stuck with me was when Bryan was entering the prison. The guard stripped him almost naked and asked him to bend over just to mess with him. No attorney is stripped like that when entering a correctional facility, but because he was black it happened to him.

The content shown here has given me an even bigger understanding of the issues presented. It was already clear to me that the justice system is corrupt and there is an issue with wrongfully convicting people but coming from a true story and seeing it from their view opens your eyes much more. It presents to us how African Americans are treated in our criminal justice system whether a criminal or an attorney. I would recommend this to media source to everyone!! It is very informative, motivational and shows you a true case of a wrongfully convicted black man and the struggles he and his family endures.



The Hate U Give Blog


The media source I chose for this post was the movie, The Hate U Give. This movie (https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B07T1HMX5V/ref=atv_dl_rdr?autoplay=1) was produced by George Tillman Jr. and premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2018, and was released in the United States on October 5, 2018. This movie follows the main character Starr Carter, a black teenager who switches between her black community and the wealthy prep school their parents sent them too.

The movie starts off by Starr’s dad, Maverick, teaching her and her siblings what to do if a police officer stops the car, they are in. Put your hands on the dashboard and do what they say. The movie then jumps to when Starr was sixteen and balancing her social life in two circles. Her friend invites her to a party to help her fight when she runs into her lifelong friend, Khalil. Their romantic conversation was interrupted by gun shots, so they ran to his car and drove away safely. Until just a couple minutes later, when he is driving Starr home he gets pulled over. When the cop walked up to his window, he was very aggressive which led Khalil to ask him what he had done wrong. When that was asked, the officer became more upset and told him to get out of the car to search him for weapons. When searching for weapons, he found nothing but Khalil’s wallet, which he takes back to the police car. Then he failed to do what Starr’s father always told her to do when approached by a police officer. He reached into the window and asked her if she was okay and reached for his brush. The officer then instantly fired three rounds at Khalil killing him. After handcuffing Starr next to her dying friend, the officer screams for him to show the weapon only to find a hairbrush sitting next to him. After experiencing two of her best friends’ deaths, Starr suffers from PTSD and seems to wonder around unsure of what she is still doing there at all. Her classmates do not relate or understand her problems whatsoever which makes it much harder for her. She goes through everyday dealing with people saying stuff to her and having publicity that she was never used to. But having the publicity she does, she uses it to her advantage. When protesting she was always afraid to use her voice because she was the witness, and nobody knew that. When the final protest came and police started loading out with riot shields and bombs, she knew it was her time. She grabbed the megaphone and told everyone that she was the witness and saw the whole thing. She screamed for Khalil’s justice along with everyone else and was proving a point.

This movie confirms much of what I have learned in not only this class, but most of my criminology classes. It takes the time to explain the inequalities and barriers African Americans face in the everyday life. In our class, we learned about racial profiling and police brutality which reflects this movie to its core. The Stanford Open Policing Project did a study, “The data show that officers generally stop black drivers at higher rates than white drivers…”( E. Pierson, C. Simoiu, J. Overgoor, S. Corbett-Davies, D. Jenson, A. Shoemaker, V. Ramachandran, P. Barghouty, C. Phillips, R. Shroff, and S. Goel, vol. 4). This is a perfect example on what happened to Khalil. The officers reasoning for pulling him over was he did not use a turn signal when switching lanes, but how many people a day do you see doing that? It is proof that he was pulled over because of his skin color. This content confirms so much of what we have learned, but one that sticks out to me is the famous case of Tamir Rice. Who was a twelve year old boy playing with a toy gun in a park in Cleveland, Ohio. As explained, “An eyewitness called 911 and told the dispatcher that there was someone in the park waving a gun, describing the person as “probably juvenile” and the gun as “probably fake” (Fairfax, 218). When the officers showed up without hesitation, they instantly shot him. Without even questioning or investigating him. The grand jury failed to file charges in Tamir’s case just like Khalil’s, but it is known that if a police officer is involved in a shooting, they are less likely to be indicted.

The content of this movie really made me mad because it still continues to happen. This movie did such a great job of presenting the issues and barriers blacks face in our communities. I knew that there is such a huge issue with police and blacks, but this movie delivers these messages in such emotional ways. It was like I could feel how Starr felt. This movie opened my eyes a lot, especially being from Pittsburgh and having the Antwon Rose case in my area. Incidence like these make me want to make a change in the criminal justice system and the ways officers interact with blacks.