Morgan Alumni Premieres on Documentary on Baltimore Crime

The MSU Spokesman

mainLYB150“Live Young Blood,” a documentary directed and produced by videographer Justin Gladden and journalist Bobby Holmes, takes a rare look at youth living in Baltimore City and  examines Baltimore’s violent culture and its impact on citizens.

The seventy-five minute film focuses on violence in Baltimore, with specific emphasis on urban youth.

Budgetless, but fueled with ambition to complete their project, Holmes and Gladden did most of the filming and production work by themselves.

“If I want to do something, I do it,” said Holmes. “I just ordered flyers… came out of my own pockets. The website needs to get done and it’s going to come out of my own pockets.  I don’t wait for anyone to do anything for me. Otherwise, it will never get done.”

After a couple of phone conversations in 2010, Gladden and Holmes agreed to begin producing “Live Young Blood,” the first film in a “hopeful” three-part series that will discuss youth violence, education, and juvenile justice in Baltimore.

“In the first one we’re really just going to be talking about the victims or survivors of homicide, the grieving process, and some people working in places to prevent it,” said Gladden.

Though neither of the film-makers have been directly affected by violence, they said they know people who have. “I don’t know anyone in some shape, form, or fashion that hasn’t been affected by violence,” said Holmes. “It’s something we all experience.”

While he was attending Morgan State, Gladden said his roommate’s friend was killed. He described the victim as a “good upstanding brother and good college student.”

Gun violence has been in national news this last year, especially in Chicago where a shooting on March 11 left 6-month-old Johnylah Watkins dead.

According to Slate, a daily web magazine, an estimated 3,396 people in the U.S. have died as a result of gun violence since the Newtown, Connecticut shooting on December 14, 2012. That figure trumps the death toll of the Sept. 11 attacks, which holds at 2,752.

The Baltimore Sun reports that there have been 57 homicides in Baltimore so far this year, including a triple homicide on the 2200 block of N. Fulton Ave on March 19.

“We have developed a mindset in the western world [that says] it is okay to shoot somebody or hurt somebody when [they] do something that you feel is disrespectful,” said David Miller, chief visionary officer and co-founder of the Urban Leadership Institute, on one of the film’s trailers.

Miller is featured in the documentary along with other activists and experts including Annette March-Grier, executive director or Roberta’s House, Lori Toscano, director at the Baltimore City Health Department-Safe Streets, and, Daniel Webster, director of Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

There have been two shootings on Morgan’s campus this fall. One murder also took place just blocks away from campus near Loch Raven Boulevard and Stonewood Road. Outside of school shootings, some Morgan students have also been affected in other ways by violence.

In February 2012, Bryan Waters, a Morgan senior, lost one of his friends due to gun violence in a domestic dispute. “We need more mentoring programs, more events and everyone needs to step up and care for children [like] they are their own,” said Waters.

Like Waters, Jamar Barnes is a Morgan State senior who has been impacted by gun violence.  Barnes’ friend, Hakim, was shot three times and imprisoned on a murder charge. After serving three years, Hakim was found not guilty and released.

Barnes proposes a solution he thinks can decrease the amount of crime in Baltimore. “If you offer an ultimatum other than drugs and other things, I think you can reduce crime,” said Barnes.

Deeming them “black super heroes of the ghetto,” Marvin walked the city’s streets with members of Baltimore’s Safe Streets organizations. Modeled after the Cease Fire organization in Chicago, Safe Streets collaborates with law enforcement to provide various services, including mentoring teens and young adults and mediating disputes to help reduce crime. Safe Streets has significantly reduced crime in the Southeastern district of Baltimore, in the McElderry park area, said Holmes.

Holmes are Gladden, both alumni of Morgan State, now work full-time in the department they once studied in.  Gladden is the Student Media Advisor and Integrated Media Coordinator and Holmes is a producer for WEAA’s Marc Steiner show.

After the initial showing at Morgan State, Gladden and Holmes plan to show their films at neighboring colleges and eventually create a curriculum to “help children deal with violence.

Live, Young Blood made its world premiere on Tuesday, April 16, at 7:00pm at Morgan State University’s Communications Building.