Yance Ford’s Strong Island is a cry for social justice.
The documentary is about William Ford, a black teacher, who was shot and killed in 1992 by auto shop employee, Mark Reilly, over arguments about delays. The film also highlights the devastation on Ford’s death had on his family. When the case was brought before the grand jury they declined to indict him on manslaughter. Why?
Because Reilly feared for his life.
Which is strange, because Ford was a teacher and his mother, Barbara Dunmore Ford, founded Rosewood, a school for women on Riker’s Island.
Strong Island opens up with the victims sister, Yance Ford – who is also the filmmaker, phoning a member from the District Attorney’s office who was on the case. Yance states that she has a couple of questions that have been plaguing her over the past few years. The lawyer abruptly becomes on edge. She harshly insists that she does not wish to talk about her prior cases or make any comments on her behalf. This was a very intriguing way to start off the documentary because it sets the ominous, frustrating tone.
“The house had a stillness like anything I’ve ever felt in my life. It was like all the sound left the world.”
Keep in mind that this was in 1992.
Trayvon Martin was gunned down in 2012 by George Zimmerman. He was acquitted.
Eric Garner was chocked to death in 2014 by Daniel Pataleo. He was not indicted.
Mike Brown was murdered in 2014 by Darren Wilson. He was acquitted.
Tamir Rice was gunned down by Timothy Loehmann, He was indicted.
Terry Crutcher was gunned down in 2016 by Betty Shelby. She was acquitted.
Philando Castille killed By Jeronimo Yanez in 2016. Not guilty.
And the list goes on and on..
When will it change?
Strong Island also gives insight to how we react and engage with our family members after the death of a loved one. The husband shut himself out completely from the wife. The sister stated, “I decided not to let anyone see me upset. Because then they wanna talk about it, and I don’t wanna talk about it.” She added,”Whenever anybody asked me how I was doing I said I’m doing fine.”
She continued,”We never talked about what happened as a family, we just went into our own spaces, our own heads.”
Emotional stress is always amplified when you lose a loved one. You feel grief, anger, resentment, and maybe even a little bit of guilt. In “Strong Island” we get to see the psychological aspects of dealing with a death by police brutality in the African American community.
This documentary is an onion filled with layers of social injustice, emotional health, police brutality, and segregation. The documentary also touches on the emotional fear of police when a loved one is murdered by law enforcement. This chilling, raw documentary is a must see for everyone.
“Strong Island” is a real tear jerker, so grab your tissues.
Will you be watching? Let us know!