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St. Louis Native’s Documentary ‘Lights Of Baltimore’ Tells The Story Of Freddie Gray’s Commu

On April 12, 2015, the day Freddie Gray was arrested, St. Louis native Beau Willimon was also in Baltimore, filming “House of Cards.” The subsequent death of Gray sparked national outrage and a police investigation. While the charges were dropped, the moment nonetheless drew parallels with numerous police-involved killings across the country — including in St. Louis.

“There’s been a long history of police brutality and unjust deaths in our country, unfortunately,” Willimon said, “but I think Ferguson in many ways brought it to the national fore in terms of our collective consciousness, in a way that many incidents in the past had not, and Freddie Gray was an extension of that.”

Willimon connected with journalist and filmmaker Sabrina Bouarour while she was documenting the aftermath of Gray’s case. The two later collaborated and co-produced “Lights of Baltimore,” a new documentary about the development of policing in Baltimore, early redlining practices and the disinvestment in Black communities around the U.S.

“We’ve seen over the last several months major tectonic shifts in the way that our country thinks about these issues and Black Lives Matter,” Willimon said Thursday on St. Louis on the Air. “It’s part of a string of incidents and part of a history that we’re still grappling with.”

In conversation with host Sarah Fenske, the filmmaker discussed how “Lights of Baltimore” highlights the Black community beyond poverty and riots. The film is part of this year’s extended St. Louis International Film Festival, during which Willimon is also offering a free screenwriting class.

Related Event

What: “Lights of Baltimore

When: Nov. 16-22, 2020

Where: For free online

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Emily Woodbury joined the St. Louis on the Air team in July 2019. Prior to that, she worked at Iowa Public Radio as a producer for two daily, statewide talk programs. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa with a degree in journalism and a minor in political science. She got her start in news radio by working at her college radio station as a news director. Emily enjoys playing roller derby, working with dogs, and playing games – both video and tabletop.