Prisoners of the Ghetto

14th & Sanchez, San Francisco

­A powerful portrayal of the difficulties and dangers of life in the black ghettos of San Francisco. At 14, Shawn Richard was a gun-toting leader of a teenage gang dealing in drugs on the streets of San Francisco. “When you have money in your pocket, you always want more,” he confessed. His story is that of many kids in America’s black ghettos, in which dozens of people are mown down by gunfire every year. The victims are usually black and poor. The US media spotlights the violence, spurring calls forever more repressive laws. Meanwhile, gangs carry on slaying their rivals in a merciless, meaningless orgy of violence. “When they killed my brother, I saw it had to stop,” says Shawn. Today he runs the NGO “Brothers against Guns”, which is supported by San Francisco’s Mayor. Devin Melvin also packed a pistol when he was 14. “The gun made me feel safe – I was scared what might happen to me on the streets. But now I want to give up violence. This is no life.” Devin is now 16. He realized the error of his ways when he was dragged before the juvenile court. Now he goes to school, has a Saturday job in a museum, and makes videos for an NGO. But Devin is one of the lucky ones – one in three black Americans end up in jail before they reach 25. The report graphically portrays Shawn and Devin’s crusade against the gang violence that puts many young blacks behind bars or in an early grave.