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Film series sponsored by ArchCity Defenders to focus on racial justice

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

ArchCity Defenders and community radio station KDHX are rolling out a three-month film series on racial justice.

First in the series, "Marvin Booker was Murdered" by filmmaker Wade Gardner, will be screened on Thursday evening at The Stage KDHX. 

The film explores the death of Booker, a homeless street preacher, who was beaten by five Denver jail guards nearly eight years ago. While more than 20 people witnessed the incident and it was caught on tape, the guards were not charged with any crime or reprimanded in the case.

Rebecca Gorley, the communications director at ArchCity Defenders, said the feature-length documentary examines Booker’s life and what happened after his death.

“The film is really a reflection of Marvin’s amazing life and his devout family and the grassroots community that really organized after his death and filed a lawsuit against the city of Denver,” Gorley said. “And the film really shows how the city of Denver attempted to protect the thin blue line instead of Marvin Booker’s constitutional rights.”

Gardner’s film may be familiar to many in St. Louis. The award-winning documentary appeared in last year’s Cinema St. Louis film festival.

Gorley said she hopes people in the St. Louis region are able to see the parallels between the films and the systemic and judicial challenges in St. Louis. She said all three films get at the core of the issues that ArchCity Defenders is tackling.

“Highlighting issues that are impacting not only ArchCity Defenders' clients and families and communities, but our region as a whole,” Gorley said. “Issues of pretrial detention, the conversation about closing the Workhouse, cash bail. We really hope to bring people into a conversation that leads them to advocacy and action on these issues impacting us.”

On July 26,  the group will screen the feature-length documentary “Whose Streets?” by Damon Davis.

The name of the third film has not been released, but the screening is scheduled for Aug. 23.

A Q&A will be held after the screening of “Marvin Booker Was Murdered” with ArchCity Defenders executive director Blake Strode, film director Wade Gardner, and Booker’s brother, the Rev. Spencer Booker, who is the pastor of St. Paul AME Church in St. Louis.

The free event on Thursday will be at The Stage KDHX at 3524 Washington Ave.; registration is required. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the screening starts at 7 p.m.

Follow Marissanne on Twitter: @Marissanne2011

Marissanne is the afternoon newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

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