Did you know that there are 24 million incarcerated men in the US and at least 120,000 of them are innocent.
Before Kalief Browder there was Colin Warner. Colin was a hustler. A young man who was doing whatever he needed to do to survive. Does that make him a thug? Does that make Colin a falsely accused murderer whose youth was snatched for more than 20 years?
Police Officers in any given town in America have become notorious for and synonymous with coercing false statements to arrest innocent individuals with little to no evidence. In addition, because the legal system is rigged for those who have money, many innocent individuals spend months in jail before even seeing a trial that could possibly set them free. For Kalief, it was allegedly stealing a backpack at 16 and spending years in solitary confinement. Kalief didn’t make it. Her took his own life in June 2015.
For Colin Warner, it was the murder of someone he didn’t even know. Sitting in jail for months without a trial and inadequate legal representation, thanks to his best friend Carl King, Warner would ultimately be released nearly 21 years later.
Directed and Written by Matt Ruskin, Crown Heights moves along very slowly, especially in the middle. However, it is the performances of LaKeith Stanfield as Colin Warner and Nnamdi Asomugha as Carl King that keep you engaged. They illustrate through Ruskin’s writing that when people stick together, believe and persevere, even the impossible can become possible. Crown Heights also brings to light the sense of community and how important all of that was to Colin’s prison release.
I had the opportunity to speak with Lakeith and Nnamdi about Crown Heights, Carl and Colin. Here’s what they had to say…
Interview with LaKeith Stanfield and Nnamdi Asomugha for Crown Heights
It didn’t go wasted on me that although this film is male driven, Colin’s wife (beautifully played by Natalie Paul) carried the torch of a strong-willed woman who stands by her man no matter what. It is her love, drive and unwavering support that ultimately gives Colin the hope he needs to survive behind bars.
Crown Heights also speaks to the never-ending issue of police brutality and bullying as a means to make their quota for the month without any regard for the lives they are ruining in the process.
Today, Colin Warner is a free man and does not take that second chance for granted. His friend Carl continues to assist those who are wrongly accused and is probably being a beacon of light for someone right now as I share this story.
If you take nothing else from watching this film, take away the fact that everyone reading this knows someone, is related to someone or may even themselves have been incarcerated. Don’t be so quick to judge with negativity. You may just be judging an innocent person railroaded by the very system that is meant to protect and serve.
Produced by Amazon Studios and I Am 21 Entertainment, Crown Heights can be streamed NOW via Amazon.