An In-depth Analysis of Miami's 1980 Race Riots
"When Liberty Burns": An in-depth analysis of the life and untimely death of Arthur Lee McDuffie at the hands of Miami Dade police officers.
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WHEN LIBERTY BURNS - A WLRN Original Presentation
This two-hour documentary examines the life and untimely death of Arthur Lee McDuffie at the hands of Miami-Dade police officers. This incident was a catalyst for what is being remembered as the McDuffie riots and became a symbol of the city's struggle to contend with race relations.
On December 17th, 1979, Arthur McDuffie failed to stop for a traffic light and police officers gave chase. After realizing he could not escape, McDuffie surrendered, but he was beaten until he lost consciousness.
According to the coroner's report, the beating caused his death. However, an all-white jury found the officers not guilty and rioting started almost immediately. This resulted in the deaths of 18 people and millions of dollars in damages. These events became a focal point of Miami's struggle to contend with race relations.
The documentary features interviews with Arthur McDuffie's family and friends, lead detectives, eyewitnesses, historians, and modern community activists, and it covers McDuffie's life and his rich relationships with his family and community. When Liberty Burns also investigates the backdrop in which Miami grew throughout this country's Jim Crow era, tracing the dynamics of race relations in the city while also managing more diverse ethnic populations, growth, and transformation.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Dudley Alexis is an independent filmmaker and visual artist. He is both a cultural anthropologist and historian who sees his world through unique multicultural eyes. His mission as a Creative is to mine the wealth of hidden details that provide meaning to the lives of those often written off by the mainstream, finding in their stories, real treasure.
Femi Folami-Browne is a Miami native born in the 1950’s, Femi Folami Browne knows well this documentary’s underlying theme. She has long spoken out against racial disparity beginning in her teens when she rebelled against the status quo by joining the Theatre of Afro Arts, Miami’s first black cultural arts organization. Ironically, Browne and her daughters happened to be visiting her mother in 1980 Miami when the McDuffie Riots erupted.