‘A Crime on the Bayou’ review: Race on trial

As a documentary, “A Crime on Bayou,” Directed by Nancy Buirsky, is told dryly, but it has a powerful idea, showing how even the bureaucratic aspects of the legal system in the Deep South in the 1960s could have been weaponized against black Americans. Part of what made Jim Crow a totalitarian was its arbitrariness, to explain Lolis Eric Alley, the son of a lawyer involved in the film’s events: a black man never knew he might be suddenly charged with a crime.

The alleged crime here took place in 1966, when Gary Duncan, a 19-year-old fisherman in Plaquemines Parish, LA, intervened in a possible clash between a group of two of his young relatives, who were students at a newly integrated school. About white boys whom relatives thought were trying to start a fight. Duncan says he touched a white boy’s arm. For that, they were charged with ordinary batteries. matter Wound Your Way to the Supreme Court of the United States, where Duncan won the right to a jury trial that had not previously been guaranteed in the state courts of Louisiana.

These events are mainly described by Duncan himself and his lawyer Richard Sobol, who died last year. Other prominent voices in the film are Allie and civil rights lawyer Armand Durfner. Sobol, who was Jewish, recalls being targeted by Leander Perez, the parish’s racist and anti-Semitic political boss. And in covering the repercussions of branching cases, “A Crime on the Bayou” shows how superficially straightforward, daring acts — such as refusing to admit an unjustly guilty or defending an unjustly accused — are difficult. is.

a crime on the bayou
not evaluated. Running time: 1 hour 29 minutes. in Theaters.

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