In 1964, student activists and local Mississippians joined forces on a voter-registration drive dubbed Freedom Summer that was among the pivotal moments in the civil-rights movement. This summer the movement to end money bail and mass incarceration is taking a page from that playbook and continuing the drive to break down the barriers that are robbing people—particularly people of color—of both actual and economic freedom.
The first major step will be a successful vote in the California legislature to end the unjust and ineffective system that creates two separate and unequal forms of justice—one for the rich and one for the rest.
Events will bring together activists from a broad range of organizations throughout California who have been working tirelessly, first to get an end to money bail on the legislative agenda, and now to rally public support for the actual bill—SB10—going to the floor of the state Assembly and then on to the governor’s desk in time for 2018.
As part of this coordinated campaign, Brave New Films will premiere short films around the state and in key legislative districts. We’ll be showing them to activists and advocates, poets and politicians, everyone whose voices must be heard in order to win.
Below you can see the schedule of events so far and information about how to participate if you can. If you can’t make it to any of the events, go to our site to learn how you can get the films, screen them with friends and colleagues, and help us build out this iteration of Freedom Summer. Overall, we expect at least 1,000 screenings of the films in living rooms and churches, classrooms and libraries, anywhere where people can gather to learn, strategize, and mobilize for change.
Tuesday, July 25, in Los Angeles, the premiere of How Much Is Your Freedom Worth? This is something new for Brave New Films, a tale told in poetry by spoken-word artist Alyesha Wise and former BNF fellow Ty Bayliss against an animated backdrop that details the tragedy of a fictional couple whose story of being profiled, arrested, and jacked up by the justice system is all too real for millions of people. The film premieres at Da Poetry Lounge, the largest open-mic poetry night in the country, with a panel discussion including ACLU of California, broadcast live by The Young Turks Network. The film will be widely released on August 3—you can see the trailer now.
Thursday, July 27, available everywhere, the launch of Tai’s Story: College or Bail. Presented with the Ella Baker Center, this is the story of 20-year-old Tai Sherman, who was slammed behind bars and held on $100,000 bail for being present at the scene when an acquaintance apparently shoplifted $33 worth of dish soap and other household goods. She had no criminal record and wound up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor. But her mother is still out the $10,000 she paid to get her daughter out of jail. Now Tai is working full time instead of going to college, trying to help her mom make up the money she could not afford to lose. This past Sunday, July 23, the film premiered in Oakland, California—you see the trailer now.
Wednesday, August 9—premiere of A Deal with the Devil. Presented by Homeboy Industries and Brave New Films, this piece shines a light on every defendant’s potential “deal with the devil” signing away their future rights for short-term liberty. Prosecutors throughout the nation exploit the two-pronged leverage of money bail and pretrial detention, where everyone is treated like they’re guilty until proven innocent, unless of course they’re wealthy. Public defenders and other activists in the state will be helping the coalition activate statewide phone banks to call on the members of the state Assembly, all home in their districts, to support the passage of SB 10. The film will be widely released on August 10, and we’re so excited to be partnering with Homeboy Industries on this campaign. Since my friend Fr. Greg Boyle founded Homeboy Industries in 2001, it’s grown to be one of the largest, most comprehensive, and most successful gang intervention, rehabilitation, and reentry programs in the country.
Every Monday from July 24 to August 14—ACLU, Brave New Films, and other partners will host live Web trainings to help Californians understand the truth about money bail. We’ll start with a showing of “Breaking Down Bail,” which checks in with ordinary Californians and finds that most don’t understand that rich people can bail out and get their money back and poor people can’t.
Finally, on Thursday, August 17—the Bail Trap game, an 8-bit video game created by Brave New Films, in which “players” try to beat an unbeatable system—money bail. Find out more about our entire #EndMoneyBail this Summer campaign on our campaign site.
As always, you can host your own screening of any of these films now by signing up on our screenings page. Together we all can #EndMoneyBail this summer, not just in California but nationwide.