Strong Island
Available on Netflix
In April 1992, William Ford, Jr., a 24-year-old African-American man from Long Island, New York, was shot and killed by a 19-year-old white man. The incident started when, weeks prior, Ford's car was totaled by the driver of a tow truck from the body shop the white man worked at. The driver of the tow truck offered to have the body shop repair the car free of charge in exchange for not calling the police. As the weeks went on and the vehicle wasn't repaired, and Ford's mother was roundly insulted by the 19-year-old when she went to the body shop to get some answers, Ford went to the body shop to confront the shop's employees. He arrived unarmed, words were exchanged, and even as the exchange wasn't described by eyewitnesses as being violent, Ford was shot and killed just the same. While Ford lay dying at the scene, the police immediately seemed predisposed to believing that Ford was somehow complicit and guilty in his own homicide, while the man who pulled the trigger was taken away from the scene in a limousine. Ford's parents and siblings, grieving the loss of their family member, were presented with the insult of racial injustice to make the senseless death even worse when an all-white grand jury refused to charge the shooter with homicide, believing it to be self-defense. STRONG ISLAND, a documentary made by Ford's younger brother, discusses the deep emotional scars his family suffered in the years after the incident, a suffering that led to a kind of disintegration of his hardworking suburban middle-class family. The documentary also places the incident in the broader context of the institutional racism of the Jim Crow-segregated South, as well as the institutional racism of the policy of real estate developers and city officials of the suburbs of Long Island "redlining" African-American families to segregated zones and neighborhoods.
Starring Yance Ford, Harvey Walker, Kevin Myers
Director Yance Ford