Community Cinema selections are screened in over 50 locations throughout the United States. This month, Community Cinema presents CRIPS AND BLOODS: Made in America, a film that examines two of the most notorious and violent street gangs in America. Read some of the highlights from this month's screenings and learn more about the live webcast discussion.
St. Louis, IL A large and diverse audience of 425 gathered at the Missouri History Museum to view and discuss CRIPS AND BLOODS: Made in America. A common theme that ran through the discussion was "communities need to come together to fight this problem.” The discussion turned to local programs that exist to take kids off the streets and get them involved in useful projects or into athletic programs, often run by volunteer police. The audience discussed the need to focus on educating young people to help them make informed choices.
One audience member noted, “We need a holistic approach to gangs. Bring many agencies and individuals together in a community to learn to care for these kids. We need to do this despite funding so the programs don’t go away when the money dries up. We need to reach out as a community to stop this problem. When a group of people feel they don’t matter (second class citizens) gangs grow. We need to reach across economic and racial lines and come together to solve this problem. Have honest conversations like the one tonight. Then we will slow the growth of gangs.” The discussion concluded with a former gang member sharing his experiences raising his children and developing a program aimed at helping young people empower themselves with skills and values to avoid gang life.
Grand Rapids, MI With the largest audience of the year, CRIPS AND BLOODS: Made in America screened at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts to a full house. After the screening, panelists Jim Houston, criminal justice professor at Grand Valley State University (GVSU); Oliver Wilson, former dean of the Office of Multicultural Affairs; and Derrick Philips, a GVSU student and former gangster disciple from Chicago talked with the audience about gang-related topics, including personal experiences and the long-term sociological effects gang culture has on communities. Many audience members responded by voicing their desires to volunteer and mentor young people faced with gang violence.
Saratoga Springs, NY Community members at the Saratoga Springs Public Library acknowledged the long-standing racism, economic hardship and blame cast upon gang members after viewing the film. Audience members discussed the filmmaker’s skill in showing the raw facts behind gangs in the United States and appreciated the idea of “treating gang members like criminals and committing them to prison merely makes them the scapegoat and doesn’t get to the heart of the problem.” Panelist Ron Barrett, gang prevention coordinator for the Capital Region of New York, explained that drugs are connected to gangs because they are the only feasible source of income and how gang life is sensationalized in popular media. Interested in taking part of the discussion? Join us live on the ITVS Blog at 8:15 PM PDT (11:15 PM EDT), Tuesday, April 14.
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