ITVS and WHYY Present CRIPS AND BLOODS: Made in America

Posted on April 28, 2009

CRIPS AND BLOODS: Made in America, which examines the conditions that have led to the devastating gang violence among young African Americans growing up in South Los Angeles, played to a full house at The Rotunda, an arts and culture space in West Philadelphia. 

The event was co-presented by ITVS and WHYY, in partnership with the Philadelphia Anti-Drug Anti-Violence Network, Scribe Video Center and the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Following the film, Cliff Akiyama, a former deputy sheriff and currently a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, led a panel discussion. Akiyama opened the Q&A with an impassioned plea to the audience––to look at the issue of gang violence with “open hearts and minds” and consider multiple approaches to a solution, beyond just law enforcement. Other panelists included Darryl Coates, executive director of the Philadelphia Anti-Drug Anti-Violence Network; Everett Gillison, deputy mayor of public safety; Dorothy Johnson-Speight, executive director of Mothers In Charge; and Jack Stollsteimer, Pennsylvania Safe Schools advocate and former federal prosecutor of drug gangs in Philadelphia. 

Each of the panelists discussed the impact of violence in Philadelphia and in their personal lives. They stressed the importance the film played for being a tool to bridge a serious conversation about prevention and alternatives. Questions came from teachers, who had been assaulted by students and wanted practical information about how to identify gang signs and symbols, and youth involved in community service on school grounds, probing suggestions about more ways to fully engage others. Statistics were presented about the number of gangs in the United States, the number of weapons that enter Philadelphia's public schools on a daily basis and the fact that the issue of gangs exists in many ethnic groups and a far-reaching problem.

 One parent became emotional when sharing her frustration about the personal challenges she faces when sending her children to school every day. There was much more to discuss after the formal program ended, and many lingered afterward to talk with panelists and each other about resources and information. The turnout and level of seriousness during the Q&A showed the widespread concern and the number of people interested in getting involved to address this problem. The film was certainly a powerful catalyst for bringing the Philadelphia community together around a common and heartfelt concern. Want to find upcoming screenings in your area? Community Cinema selections are screened in more than 50 locations throughout the United States. 

Check out the schedule and find Community Cinema in your neighborhood >> Check out clips from the event below:              


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