Robert King, Vadim Jean, & Emily Maw on Stage at Warren Easton High

Tonight’s ride took me over to Warren Easton High for tonight’s screening of In the Land of the Free as part of the Patois Film Festival. I was on for selling tickets, so I got there early and looked for a bike rack. I asked that kid with the trombone who was goofing around outside, waiting for his ride, if there were any bike racks. Nope. No bike racks at a high school. I hope he just didn’t know where they were, because kids should be able to ride their bikes to school and lock them up safely. Meh. I locked up to a sign and went in. Literally hundreds of people showed up and we ran out of ones, but then, the movie. I watch a lot of documentaries, and this one did a few things I don’t love–slightly cloying music, more straight narrative than story–but the subject matter made it good, and so, so important. We are keeping men in solitary confinement for THIRTY NINE YEARS. These men are innocent, but even if they weren’t, 39 years is cruel and unusual punishment. What problems are we solving by keeping men like Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox and so many others in cages solving? Or, as Robert King pointed out tonight, we need to remember that what is legal is not necessarily moral. I snapped this picture of King sitting with the director of the film, Vadim Jean, and Emily Maw, director of The Innocence Project, answering questions about the film, the case, and what to do next. A lot of people thought together about hard stuff tonight, and that’s not nothing. I lingered afterward and chatted with friends and remembered again how good it is to live somewhere like this with friends like these who do the kind of work they do. I rode my bike home into a headwind. Sometimes you’ve got to lower that gear and spin.

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