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Asalh Conference Presents: The Poison Garden
September 20 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
On 9/20 at 7:45 PM, a multi-award winning documentary called The Poison Garden, which tells the true history of racism in Florida law enforcement, will screen at the 108th ASLAH conference in Jacksonville at the Hilton Riverfront. To date, The Poison Garden has won thirteen Best Documentary Awards and is nominated as a finalist or semi-finalist to win twenty-one more (and counting). In July, 2023, The Poison Garden won the top award (The Pillar Film Award For Social Change) at the National Press Club’s 11th Annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival In Washington, DC; the world’s first and only festival by whistleblowers and for whistleblowers advocates & journalists. The Festival’s mission is to build community and mutual support among whistleblowers and their advocates, connect whistleblowing “free speech” to the first amendment, social justice activism, and the global civil and human rights movements and to celebrate whistleblowers and their significant contributions to culture, society and the world.
The Urban Film Festival in Overtown, Miami recently nominated us for an award as Best Documentary and then screened the movie at the Lyric Theater on Sunday, 9/3. The Pinellas NAACP chapter will be screening “The Poison Garden” in October in Clearwater and several conservative state legislators will sit on the panel discussion to defend their votes for the STOP WOKE ACT against other legislator/panelists who are opposed to what the Florida legislature has been doing. Other screening dates are pending including at the African American Research Library & Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale and at various Miami Dade Public Library locations on dates starting in November, 2023 into 2024.
The Poison Garden is a fully sourced and historically accurate portrayal of historical racism in South Florida’s courts and law enforcement beginning in the 1930’s and continuing until today. This film recreates real cases and incorporates original news footage of real events and much of its content is taken directly from official court documents and transcripts. The parallels it draws from the past to the present expose the root causes of the continuing problems of racism in South Florida law enforcement. The film is very real and very raw and it begins with 3 high profiles cases of racial violence that occurred both in and out the courts in Dade and Broward counties when South Florida’s government leaders tortured confessions and executed innocent African Americans without appeals to placate angry white lynch mobs. Act I tells the true story of “The Little Scottsboro Boys” case in 1933 in which four innocent Bahamian workers were arrested and tortured for days to coerce their confessions to a murder they did not commit. Their false convictions lead to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Chambers v. Florida which outlawed the use of confessions obtained by torture. Act II is a recreation of the 1934 trial of Walter “Doc” Williams in Miami by which the Governor of Florida orchestrated Doc Williams being railroaded into the electric chair for the rape of a white woman, a crime he did not commit. The trial of Walter “Doc” Williams, was recreated with live actors in the original courtroom at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse (built in 1925) where the Williams trial was held in 1934. Act III portrays the 1935 lynching of Rubin Stacey in Fort Lauderdale. Stacey was an innocent black man who was lynched by an outraged mob of white supremacists lead by the Sheriff of Broward County. The film incorporates original news footage dating back to the 1930’s until today with live actor recreations of those events and concludes with commentary by family members of Ruben Stacey and by some of those who have been unjustly condemned to death on Florida’s death row as well as academics and attorneys who explain why South Florida’s criminal justice system has been broken for over 100 years and what must be done to fix it.