Hate Crimes in the Heartland is an award winning documentary film and community outreach project that explores our national epidemic of hate crimes through the lens of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here two crimes, over 90 years apart, are impacting human rights, media, crime, race and punishment in communities today.
The film has played in a variety of regional festivals ranging from the Newark Black Film Festival to the Ohio Independent Film Festival in Cleveland, the San Diego Black Film Festival and at the Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival.
The documentary opens in Tulsa in April 2012, when two white males drove through the African-American Greenwood neighborhood targeting blacks at random, killing three people and leaving two others in critical condition. Terrified community leaders united with government and law enforcement led a successful manhunt. The film follows the murders, social media uproar, manhunt and capture of the suspects who are now serving life sentences.
Heartland compares this recent hate crime to the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. In 1921, in a frenzy of media-enflamed hatred, a white mob rampaged through the wealthy “Negro Wall Street” district of Greenwood, destroying 35 city blocks, leaving up to 300 people dead and more than 10,000 homeless – all in one night. Not one white person was ever arrested, tried, or convicted of any crime related to the 1921 Race Riots.
Racial tensions in America have never been higher and the tragic events explored in the film clearly illustrate the transformation of racial unrest to violence, of denial, blocking the path toward resolution and healing. The nation continues to struggle to make sense of today’s brazen killings of Jordan Davis, the Good Friday murders, Trayvon Martin, James Byrd, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Freddie Gray.