Southern Rites (2015) Movie Script

(music playing)
Keyke Burns: The day you
met me, when you asked me,
you know, did I go to
school? Was I in high school,
went to prom together,
I knew what it was about.
And, yes, I was excited,
because finally, you know,
story is getting out,
and hoping for a change
and, you know, I was really excited
and my daddy was really excited.
We was all just excited.
We was just wanted... we really
wanted you to see our side.
I got in a lot of trouble
with some of the students
for trying to integrate it.
They told me, "What are you
doing? It's not the parents."
It is us, we don't want it together
and you need to stop trying
to do this." I got cussed out.
I talked to my boyfriend and I
said, "Let's just go to both."
But when I went to buy the tickets
to the white prom, I was not allowed.
I was told that if my
date was going to be black,
he wouldn't be let in.
So we just went to the black prom.
And I feel like the rest of
the world will look at us like,
"What in the hell? They
go to school together,
they play basketball together,
they cheerlead together.
They're best friends.
You know, it's happening everywhere,
why can't it happen in
a small town like this?"
Woman: This community
and this school system
is fine like it is. We
don't want to change it.
We want to live the way
our grandparents lived
and the way our great-grandparents lived.
Why change something that has worked?
Just leave it alone.
And then, even with the little kids
in elementary school, they
pick a black elementary girl
and a white elementary girl.
They even make the
little kids be segregated.
It's so sad, I didn't even notice it.
The little kids don't even know,
but they're making them, you know,
learn that you are black, you are white.
It's sad. I didn't even notice that.
Gillian Laub: Until just now?
Yeah, I guess I didn't
recognize it till now
that they are actually teaching kids
to be, you know, segregated, to be...
be black, be white. No, be
a color instead of a person.
Be your color, act your
color, know your place.
Man: My grandma told me
red birds and blue birds
don't nest together.
They'd come out with a
red head and a blue ass.
I mean, I just don't feel like it's right,
that's what my grandma told me
and I believe she was right.
- Laub: Hey!
- Do not put that in my face.
And the problem is, you are not
supposed to be on school property
- unless you are signed in.
- Oh, okay.
Hey, what newspaper are you with?
Laub: What?
What newspaper are you with?
(Laub screaming)
Hey! No, no, no! What are you doing?
- Man: This is our property.
- Laub: No, no, no, no!
- Sanders: You got problems, honey.
- Laub: I'm sorry, I'll leave.
- (thunder rumbling)
(horn honking)
Calvin Burns: This is south Georgia.
The further you go north, Atlanta,
everything's pretty well normal.
The further you go south, Miami,
everything's pretty well normal.
This is middle Georgia,
Mount Vernon, Georgia.
Things going to stay the way it is.
Female: It's our heritage, is what it is,
and it's not racist.
It's just the Southern way.
So we start our babies out
hunting and wearing camouflage.
All these people that run around
screaming the Confederate flag is racist...
in my opinion, they're not
stupid, they're ignorant,
because ignorance is the absence
of really knowing what happened.
I'm not going to hide it for nobody.
If I want to show the rebel flag, I'm
going to, because that's my heritage.
Peoples in Michigan, New York,
Virginia, they ain't got a
clue what we talking about.
You got to come here
and live to understand.
The problem is done too far gone.
If you got to...
like that tree right there,
if you don't like that tree,
you can go take a limb off of that tree,
cut it off, that tree ain't going to die.
It'll keep growing.
But if you get down there to the root
and cut that root, it will die.
And that's what's going on.
People ain't going to the...
to the major problem, they just
messing with the little branches.
Get to the root of the problem
and then you can fix it.
Operator: 911.
(Norman Neesmith speaking)
Operator: What's wrong?
With... with who?
Is this Mr. Neesmith?
You and your daughter?
All right.
Well, that's good to hear.
Operator: You think you shot him?
You don't know who
it was, Mr. Norman?
It was a black boy.
Is he still there?
He hit the woods?
Just talk to me, Mr. Norman, okay?
Did you shoot him in the residence
or outside the residence?
In the house?
Do you need an ambulance, Mr. Norman?
- Okay, okay.
What kind of... what kind of
gun did you shoot him with?
A .22?
A .22 pistol, right?
Shot him with a .22 pistol?
I'm going to let you know
when... yeah, a black male.
Do you know what he had on, Mr. Norman?
A dark jacket?
And baggy britches.
Okay, Mr. Norman, listen to me.
I want you to walk away from the gun, okay?
Because the deputy's there, I want
you to go meet him at the door, okay?
Neesmith: I will. I will.
My first love was Justin Patterson.
I was 14.
He was my ninth grade homecoming date.
For the very first year
we was going together,
we did not speak at all.
He was so shy and I was shy,
we never talked.
So it took a whole year
before we even did anything,
kissed, hugged, said,
"I love you," anything.
We dated, like, straight
on for, like, two years,
and then on and off my whole high
school career until 12th grade.
Justin Patterson was my first everything,
My best friend was Justin Patterson,
but we all called him Pat.
That's Justin. That's me.
We started in kindergarten together,
and we grew up, did a
lot of things together,
met a lot of different people,
played basketball, and...
... when he died, it just...
it just changed everything.
That top says, "RIP Pat,"
and it has his name, Justin Patterson,
his birthday, January 23rd, 1989,
the day he died, January 29th, 2011.
And it got his last...
his last Facebook status, "Why me?"
Why me?
Laub: What happened the day
that you found out that he died?
Keyke: My mama woke me up maybe around
6:00 and told me, "You
know, Justin got shot."
And I was like, "Okay, he
okay?" She was like, "No."
I said, "What do you mean no?"
And she's like, he died
about 3:00 that morning.
And I just...
in shock, I couldn't really get
up, I just stayed in bed for hours.
Neesmith: I ain't never been scared.
I ain't bragging or nothing, but the...
the person I'm scared
of ain't been born yet.
I ain't never been scared of nobody,
you know, really scared,
because if you had a problem with somebody,
you know, you could walk up
to them and talk about it.
But see... but now, you can't do that.
You can't talk a problem out
if you and somebody have a disagreement.
You can't do it no more, that's
what I'm telling you about,
the way this country's getting
or the people in this country.
I remember when a head shake...
a handshake was a man's
bond and that was it.
A handshake was the best...
the best guarantee about
anybody you could ever get.
If that man shook your hand, that was it,
that was the deal, it was done.
This is an old, old book right here.
It's like as old as the hills.
And that was one of the best men ever been
on the face of this earth right there.
My daddy.
Didn't play with him.
And the craziest girl
in the world right there.
Miss Danielle.
I raised Danielle
knowing she was
black when I got her.
That didn't matter to me, I raised her.
I lost people I thought was my friends
because of that, because
she was black, I was white.
We'd go uptown and people
would talk about me.
"You know, there's that"... this
is what would be said there...
"There's that... there's that
white man with that black girl."
You know, it just...
but it didn't matter to me.
After two or three months,
I loved this little girl
just like she was mine.
Just like if I was her
birth parent, and I wasn't.
Woman: Danielle, hey.
- (baby coos)
- Neesmith: Hey, doll baby.
- Woman: Whoa.
- Neesmith: Hey, doll baby.
Laub: And how is she
exactly related to you?
My niece is her mama.
But I never... I never
was around her mama much.
My wife didn't even know my niece.
And she left Danielle, this big,
a dirty diaper and...
and a tore-up little T-shirt
on that little baby this big.
I was working at night. When I came home,
I said, "Who's the little baby?"
And she said, "Your niece
brought her." And I said, "Who?"
So I had to think a while,
you know, to figure it out.
I said, "But what did she say?"
She was in a mess. She was
living in Atlanta then,
and she wanted to leave the baby
till she got straightened out.
That was 21 years ago, she never
got straightened out, I don't reckon.
The last time I seen her mama was 1996
when my daddy died.
And I love her to this day,
no matter what she's done,
I still love her.
If she caused all this,
I still love her. You know?
She... I raised her as my child.
And I can't turn my
back all the way on her.
Not 100%, I can't do it.
Laub: If you were to meet
the Patterson family now,
what would you say to them?
Right now?
I don't know. I don't know.
I can't answer that. I don't know.
Dedee Patterson: I
have... or I had two sons,
Justin, which was the oldest,
and Shavon being the youngest.
This is really one of my
favorite pictures of them.
I think Justin
may have been probably about four,
and Shavon was one month old.
Justin was a basketball player,
and he played... I mean, he started,
I think, in third grade,
and he played all the way
through his senior year,
and he did not get a chance to play
his college years because he passed away.
Laub: And tell me what happened to Justin.
You don't go into people's house
unless they knew you was there.
You didn't go up to nobody's house
and walk in if the door was open.
You got permission to do that.
That's something you didn't do.
That's where respect and
disrespect comes from,
just like these two boys that
was in this house right here.
No respect.
Dedee: Justin had just met this girl
two days ago on Facebook,
you know, Shavon was sharing
with me that
that night, the girls called him
and wanted Justin to come over.
Julius Patterson: The girls was
giving them directions to the house.
It was on a cell phone, talking with them,
and once they
got to the house,
the girls told them to park across the road
to a shed,
like an onion farm.
Neesmith: They knew it was wrong.
If they didn't know it was wrong,
why would they park over there
and hide the car and walk over here?
The two girls came out and met them.
They talked and whatever
and was invited into the house.
Neesmith: They know what they were doing.
I don't believe it's their
first time they ever done it.
But I think they...
they've done this stuff...
this wasn't the first time they'd done it.
Not at this house, like, going
in people's houses and stuff,
this ain't the first time
they done it, I know it ain't.
You never get caught the first time.
You don't ever get caught the first time.
Their color has nothing to do with it.
And when people understand that,
then this country would
be a whole lot better off.
We ain't living in the 1920s again.
Shavon Patterson: Me and my
brother, we was real close.
And when I was very young, I
used to always hang out with him,
ride with him everywhere he go.
Laub: He was your older brother?
Yes, ma'am, I just
always wanting to be like him.
I looked up to him.
Dedee: Justin and the 19-year-old,
I think her name may have been Danielle...
they went into her bedroom,
and Shavon and the other girl
that was in the house
went into another bedroom.
Julius: They did not know
that the girl's father
was in the house, asleep.
Dedee: The man had a gun
that he sleeps with on his nightstand.
He picked the gun up,
because he heard noise in the house.
Norman woke up, came in
the room and he told us...
asked us what we were doing
or whatever, who I was.
That's when I told him.
Then he told us to come in the living room.
Neesmith: I had a gun, yes.
But it was also two young boys,
muscled up, muscular boys,
somebody who's disabled,
on disability and stuff,
they can't... you can't
fight boys like that.
You'll lose every time.
Julius: Justin only weighed 110 pounds,
120 pounds, and he's a 200...
almost 300-pound man,
so that was... that's
kind of hard to believe.
I guess, for me,
the hardest thing about all of this
is that they were inviting in...
invited into the house.
I didn't know that.
See, that's what they don't understand.
That night, I ain't get no answers.
That's why I wanted
them boys to sit down over there
and when the police gets here,
you don't want to talk
to me, you talk to them.
In the meantime,
I told the little girl, "You
bring... you call your grandparents"
and tell them to come up here."
You know? I was going give them to them
and to the police,
let them do what they want to do.
You know, I wasn't even going to get in it.
But, see... everything backfired.
Everything backfired.
Dedee: He told Justin and Shavon
that he could kill them.
He said he can kill us both
and he wouldn't get in trouble
if he killed us or whatever.
Dedee: They got really scared
and saw a break to run.
Shavon jumps up first,
and Justin jumps up behind Shavon.
Justin saw Norman Neesmith running
behind them, so he pushed
Norman Neesmith over because when he was...
when Norman was aiming the gun,
he was aiming it at Shavon.
He wasn't running away,
he was running to me.
They never sat on my
couch like I asked them to.
He fired a shot at them.
He missed them the first time.
They was trying to unlock the door,
but they could not unlock
the door to get out.
They knocked me over my eating table.
And then he was coming on me
again. Was he coming to help me up?
Was he coming to tell me he was sorry?
No, he was coming to hurt me some more.
He fired another shot,
and as they got the door open,
Shavon said that Justin said,
"I've been shot."
Julius: And he started to run.
And I got out the door,
my brother, he was behind me,
and the man just kept firing at us.
(gun shots)
- Dedee: Justin fell,
and he told Shavon that
he wasn't gonna make it.
And Shavon, at that point,
didn't want to leave
him there because he...
he just didn't want to leave him.
He wanted to take him,
but as he was trying to get Justin up,
Justin was dying right there in his arms.
And Justin just told him to run,
he's gonna come after you.
The boy ran off and left
his brother, they said.
I guess he did.
Did he call the ambulance?
Did he call the police? No.
I called them.
You know who he called?
His mama,
because he knew he was in
trouble, he wanted Mama then.
You understand what I'm
saying? He wanted Mama now.
He's in trouble, "I need Mama."
But he didn't need Mama when he was
parked over there sneaking in my house.
Julius: He was indicted on felony murder,
malice murder,
voluntary manslaughter,
two counts of kidnapping
and two counts of aggravated assault.
Dedee: Since Justin's murder,
Norman Neesmith has been
walking around, just free.
I believe if there was
a black man shooting
a white young kid,
the black man would be... be locked up.
- If it was a black man that killed
a white boy,
he would not see daylight.
In fact, he may not even
live to get to a trial.
Neesmith: I get on that
motorcycle right now and I leave.
In five minutes, my mind just eases off.
It's just like I'm in another world,
freedom, just...
that wind hit you, you just feel free.
You feel like you ain't
got a worry in the world,
that's just what it feels like,
and that's why I ride.
Inez McRae: That is one
thing that was instilled
- into me as a child,
and that is that the system
considers the life of a white person
more valuable than that of a black person.
Someone spray painted
"No nigger for sheriff"
on one of the signs in Ailey.
- Laub: You weren't surprised?
- No, we weren't surprised at all.
We was actually expecting that.
We didn't think nobody was
going to spray paint a sign,
but we knew something of
that sort was going to happen.
I'm surprised it was
the only one we've seen.
It didn't really bother us at all.
I think my daddy's white friends
was more upset than we were.
I find it kind of funny,
'cause they misspelled "nigger,"
so hilarious.
Calvin: I worked 24 years
with the Montgomery
County Sheriff's Office.
I was born here, I was raised
here, I graduated from here.
I got children graduating from here,
plan to be a granddaddy.
I got two children in college.
Best place in the world to raise a child.
It ain't the point about
being the first black sheriff.
It's the point about making
this community better,
and I know I can.
I've been doing this a long time.
The sheriff now, me
and him get along great.
I just think I can do a better job.
I know I can do a better job.
Keyke: My daddy's the very
first black chief of police
in Montgomery County.
And if he gets sheriff, I mean, like,
just like the chief, it
will be really historic.
Like, it's never happened before.
I think he's got a good
shot at actually winning.
I'm not scared or anything.
The only thing I'm scared of
is somebody having something negative
to say and I have to bite my tongue.
Like, that's just the
only thing that gets me,
'cause I don't like to
bite my tongue at all.
It feels kind of good
to ride and see signs in people's yards,
especially the big
houses, because you know,
the big houses are white people houses,
so it's kind of reassuring.
I don't have any doubts.
I know I may talk like I have doubts.
I don't have doubts, it's just real scary,
because I have to live with that man.
If he don't get sheriff...
He's going to get it, though.
Hey, my name is Keyke Burns,
and my daddy's Calvin Burns
and he's running for sheriff.
I know, that's who I'm voting for.
Okay, cool, so can we put a sign,
like, in front of your door or something?
Yes, right here.
All right.
Keyke: You know my dad's
running for sheriff
- and you vote July 31st?
- Man: Yeah.
- Are you going to vote for him?
- I'm voting for Calvin
because he's got more experience
than anybody else running
and he's the current
sheriff's chosen successor.
But not only that, I've seen
the way he's dealt with people
on both sides of the law. He
treats everybody with respect.
- Hey, how you doing?
- Woman: Pretty good, how about you?
- I'm fine.
- What y'all doing?
Putting up my daddy's
signs. Didn't you get one?
Yeah, baby. I've been putting
out signs for your daddy.
- Okay, well, good.
- Woman: You know it.
Keyke: I didn't see one
out here, so I put one out.
There's a man named Thomas
Craft and Danny Taylor,
Ladson O'Connor, and Byron Braddy.
I think Byron Braddy's going
to be his biggest competition
because of his last name.
You know, his daddy is the judge
and has a lot of money.
- I've lived in Mount Vernon all my life,
- and most of my family are from here.
It's a small town, but the
people that are your friends,
they care about you
and they look after you.
You might, like, go to the store
and see someone that you know
that's like a family friend
and they'll just check on
you. "How are you doing?
What have you been up to and stuff?"
And it is a big name and they...
I wouldn't say run the town, but they,
I don't know...
they have a lot of influence over,
like, what happens and,
like, decisions and stuff
that are made in the town.
Keyke: I mean, everybody know their place.
Whether that sounds bad or not,
everybody know their place.
But I feel like I get treated differently
or respected more because
of who my daddy is.
He really don't take too much from nobody.
Laub: And why do you think he
is really reluctant to
talk to me or he didn't...
he doesn't really want
me around that much?
He don't want you around
because, really, no one likes you.
I'm not going to say, "No one likes you."
But a lot of whites don't
like you because of what you do
and all the things that you brought out.
He feels like if people see you at
his house or see him talking to you,
then they... that he's
a part of you trying to...
he's a part of you trying
to bring the racism out
and they're not going to vote for him.
And, see, he has to live here.
Laub: Once you become
sheriff, you won't talk to me?
- Oh, yeah, I'll talk to you.
- On camera?
Depending on what we're talking about.
- What?
- Depends on what we're talking about.
I'm gonna let it shine
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine
Let it shine...
Pastor Cleo Conaway: I was
born here in Montgomery County.
I've been here all of my
life, which has been 55 years.
And this was a town where
race was a big issue.
I remember as a child
how my mom and dad would get the old truck
and Dad would have his shotgun
as he'd go to the neighbors
and take them to the voting poll,
because there were fear
of retaliation if...
the blacks voted.
I was here during the cotton picking days.
It was totally segregated.
But as time progressed,
they could attend the movies,
they could attend the restaurants.
We had to go to the back
door to get our sandwich,
but we was just so happy to
be able to go to Dairy Queen,
we didn't mind going to the back door.
We didn't mind going in the
back in there of the movie,
because we was just so happy to go.
We just thought that was a way of life.
And probably felt like it would be the way
the rest of our lives,
but you know, it changed.
Conaway: When the schools was segregated,
I was one of the first three
to be sent to the high school
here in Montgomery County.
When I went to the white school,
there was just so much we were missing.
Our books were so old.
A lot of us were excited because,
"I got a new book," you know?
When Dr. Martin Luther King
came through the scene and
when he marched in Albany,
I was just 50 miles from there,
so I felt like I was a part of that.
And it seemed like everything
started smoothing out.
But then as time moved on,
the racial began to sneak back in,
very sneakily-like.
You know, but having come
through it, I knew it wasn't gone.
Conaway: You know, it's
not so much our young
white and blacks that are slow to change,
it's the older set.
They are afraid
to integrate.
Clark-Jones: If you are
invading the whites'
privacy, as they would call it,
they still feel that they
are dominant over you,
so you somewhat have to
swallow your tongue a lot.
And if you feel like you
need to stand up for yourself,
it's going to be a rough time.
- This is Meiah. This is my little girl.
Dedee: Justin has a
three-year-old daughter, Meiah,
and I pretty much take care of Meiah now.
Say what's up, Meiah. Say what's up?
Meiah, you're on camera getting recorded.
I'm wondering how long
I'm going to keep this?
I might keep this for a long time.
And you're going to get old and you'll see.
Dedee: Since he's passed away,
Meiah's mother actually works a lot,
and she is under a lot
of pressure right now,
because in her eyes,
she has to work very hard, because she...
she doesn't feel that
she has that support because Justin's gone.
- I had Meiah August 8th, 2008.
She wasn't due till September,
but I had her in August.
I had just turned 18 then.
- This is mine.
- This is your daddy's name.
- That's not my name.
- Justin.
- This is your name, see? Meiah.
- This is my name.
McKirnie: She used to ask all the time,
"Where's my daddy," you
know? "Where is he at?"
And I couldn't really talk to her for
a while about it, because I'd just cry.
This is a "W."
He was a good father.
He was a good father.
I got my arms around him.
The DA, he said that...
he said that...
it will be hard to get a guilty verdict...
in Toombs County.
In Toombs because of...
the people that he know.
And that's my father, Thomas
Eugene Maddox, and my brother...
little brother, Matt Maddox.
He claimed at one point he was
the godfather of the Dixie Mafia.
- I don't know. That would of been before I was born,
but with the stories he has
to tell, it would have...
could of happened.
So, he... oh, another thing that he said,
he said he got tired of hiring
lawyers, so he decided to have him one.
That's where they got me.
Yeah, I see Norman, he's in here.
Norman's a good guy.
He had never been in any trouble.
He said he had a speeding
ticket in the 1960s.
When he came to see us the first time,
I remember him being very upset.
Not because he was facing criminal charges,
but because he had taken someone's life,
and I don't believe that
he meant for that to happen.
When this all started,
- everyone thought that this was a...
an old redneck motorcycle riding guy
that had shot a black kid.
Well... and even the judge
had that impression initially.
When the facts were laid out,
it opened a door, now,
to just talk about what actually happened
and what crime was actually committed.
We're here. This is Norman's driveway.
Hamilton: There were any
number of folks that believed
that there was self-defense
involved in this.
But if you look at the
technicalities of the law,
self-defense goes away
when somebody is attempting to escape,
that they're no longer a threat.
So what crimes were
actually committed there?
This is the back door of Norman's house.
It's where the boys
exited the house that night.
And so, yes, it was reckless conduct
on the part of Norman
because he created a situation
in which violence could ensue.
Based on what they had
indicated in their reports,
they had initially met up in this bedroom,
smoked a blunt, a marijuana blunt,
and then parted.
It was a series of mistakes,
the whole night.
The first one happened when
the girls invited them over.
There was a 15-year-old who was having sex
with an 18-year-old.
Granted, under Georgia law,
that's only a misdemeanor,
but they shouldn't have been doing that.
There was a large part
of the community thought
that Norman did what everybody had
a right to do in their own home.
And then there were a
lot of people that thought
that he had shot at someone
under racial motivation.
You can see that he had to
come through the kitchen.
But this is his bedroom back here,
and at the time,
he always slept with a gun by his side.
Oddly enough, he... not really oddly,
around here it's kind of normal.
I actually have a gun at my house.
It's really important to
know that Norman had had
other young men who were black
visit his child.
He let children of all kinds come visit.
They didn't do it at 3:00 in the morning,
because that's not the time to visit.
He had two strange people in his house.
They were athletic.
Mr. Neesmith is not athletic.
I hate to say feeble, but he is disabled.
The boys actually came over, they snuck in,
they brought things they
shouldn't have brought
and they were doing things that
they shouldn't have been doing.
It was two boys looking for a booty call
and it all went wrong.
Justin Patterson
was ultimately able to make it to
right there where those trees are.
His brother ran on for help,
but that is where Justin Patterson died.
For a county that even
when I was in high school
had separate proms,
which was 1998 and 1997,
to go from that
to investigating a case
to that extent is...
we made a lot of headway.
Man: Ease on down.
Make your way to the alter real quick.
- (choir singing)
I love you. You know I love you.
Woman: It's gonna be all right.
(singing continues)
Dedee: Today is the one
year that I lost Justin
and it's... it's real hard.
But I believe in God,
- and I know that he will...
- (applause)
will make a way.
I could have lost my mind.
But my mama,
we prayed without ceasing.
People just kept calling me.
When I see the love, you know,
that these people bring to my life,
I thank you, all of you.
February the 20th and the 21st,
this man goes on trial
for murdering my son.
It's already done.
It's already done. Thank you.
Dedee: The day that we thought
the jury would be picked,
they told us that the DA
and Norman Neesmith's lawyers
had worked out a plea bargain.
Something we didn't know nothing about,
wasn't informed about.
If so, I would of never went with that.
I would of went to trial.
I would of fought for justice
for my son.
We received the offer the Friday
before we were supposed to
go to the trial on Monday.
At that point, we went
through the possibilities.
For example, if he had been found
guilty of only an aggravated assault,
he would have been looking at 20 years.
I think the judge would have probably
given him 10 to 20
just for one aggravated assault,
which would have put him
in prison for the rest of his life.
Dedee: I'm very glad that my youngest son
doesn't have to go through a trial,
because I don't know if he
could of made it through it.
But if this man doesn't
get what he deserves,
what kind of message are we sending?
You know, what... how... I
mean, how do I explain that
to my 19-year-old son?
You know, I can't tell him that
it's okay to shoot somebody.
Keyke: I have a little
girl, she's 17 months today,
and she's spoiled rotten.
Who on your shirt? Who's this? Who's that?
- Who's that? Papa?
- Papa.
Put my hat on.
Laub: So who do you think
it's going to be between?
- I really don't know. Republican, I don't know.
- I think it's gonna be Braddy.
I don't think it's going
to be Braddy. I don't know.
It ain't going to be Braddy.
It's going to be either him
and Braddy or him and Taylor.
It's not gonna be Braddy.
If we can get Calvin voted in,
- this will be our first African-American sheriff.
you close that door back?
Yes, ma'am.
This too much?
No, ma'am.
Bell: 'Cause he's been in office, what,
25, 30... ever since we
got out of high school.
(laughs) He's always been
involved in law enforcement,
and he's very well liked.
And he's... he's the type
of person you can talk to,
and he's not going to show favoritism.
Got to have my glasses
so I can see the ballot.
You ready?
Come on, let's go to the car.
For Calvin Burns to be elected sheriff,
it means changes are coming,
the same way it did with
us having the president.
- Hi, Calvin.
- That's Mr. Calvin.
Bell: So for Calvin, that
would be very historical.
- How you doing?
- How are you?
We voted, like, at 7:04
and been here ever since.
Just like a working day,
just not getting paid for it.
I'm tired, too.
Those are the... yeah, those
are the rest of the votes.
When I was in Fuzzy's ordering her food,
a lady showed me a text
message that someone sent her
that said that Daddy had
251 votes in Mount Vernon
more than anybody else
in Mount Vernon combined.
So looking pretty good.
830 to 106.
Found out my dad won the
primary round 830 to 106.
And the Republican is going
to be Ladson and Taylor,
not Braddy.
I can go home and rest
for round one, y'all.
- Keyke: I just told you, Daddy won.
- He will be in the running in November.
- I don't know, against Ladson or Taylor.
- Daddy, Ladson or Taylor.
(train whistle blowing)
- Dedee: I am very nervous
about the sentencing on April 26th,
because the judge could either
honor the one-year plea bargain
that the DA has made
or she could give him probation
or she could give him more time.
So, one of the three could happen.
- Who's that?
- Who's that?
- My dad.
Yep, him.
Who's that?
That ain't me.
That's your daddy.
Dedee: This thing just keeps happening.
I mean, it's been, so far,
five different murders
of young black men
killed by an older white guy,
and it's... it's just hard to...
to continue to see this thing happen
in this rural area. It's just...
it's just unfortunate.
I am hoping that the judge
can be held accountable and
say, "I can't let this happen"
and stand up for what's right.
Sneed: This shirt right here
is in memory of Justin Patterson.
We got this to show our
support for the trial.
Try to show that we want justice.
Keyke: The day it happened,
I just knew that they would find a way
that would make it okay
for him to kill him.
I just knew it. I mean,
it's something you know.
If you live here, it's something
you know that's not gonna happen.
Okay. I'm ready.
Keyke: We not in church,
baby. We're in a courthouse.
As good as can be expected.
(bangs gavel)
Dedee: On January the 29th, 2011,
my 22-year-old son
was taken from me and it
has changed my life forever.
The pain that seems to be
growing more and more inside of me
is unbearable at times.
This man will never know what
he has done to my family.
No one would ever
get me to understand why it
was necessary to kill my son.
This was a senseless death to me,
and it just didn't have to happen.
Now a year later, it's all
been reduced to two charges:
a plea bargain
that we have been told
that will hold a one-year
sentence in a detention center.
How can my family live with that?
How can you live with
it if it was your son?
That is just not what I consider justice.
A person is dead,
and it may not mean
anything to some of you,
but it was my son
and it means everything to me.
Justin was in college,
he had a three-year-old daughter
that is left without a father.
He had a mother, a brother,
and a father and even more
family than he can count.
The truth of the matter is
my son was held hostage and then murdered.
And now a year later,
this man could go free
and it's unfair.
Me and my family will have
to visit my son's grave
the rest of our lives.
Thank you.
Yes, ma'am.
Yes, ma'am.
- (crying)
(speaking indistinctly)
I know.
(Dedee crying)
Please, Lord. My baby's gone.
My baby's just gone.
- Oh, Lord Jesus.
- Come on.
You've done well.
No, you can't.
(woman speaking indistinctly)
You cannot.
It's not... my baby is gone.
This is it. Just gonna get...
Julius: In court, the DA never
mentioned anything that
Norman Neesmith had done
to our boys.
Everything was about our boys,
Justin and Shavon,
like he was trying to convict them.
Justin is gone, you cannot convict Justin.
So a bunch of stuff he said
about Justin was irrelevant.
You could have left that alone.
He could have left that alone.
He didn't have to bring up none of that.
He... well, maybe, I don't know,
but it was... it was irrelevant.
Not one time did he say
how long he kept our boys in the house,
how many times he shot at them,
that he shouldn't have shot at them,
he should have called the police.
He didn't say none... he
didn't say none of that stuff.
It was like
everybody made a bad decision that night.
Well, they was kids being kids.
(whistle blows)
(people cheering)
- (phone beeping)
Donna, do you have the Neesmith file?
I think I filed it away.
Can I get a moment?
Yes, ma'am. Okay. Thank you. Bye.
Laub: Can you explain to me why the facts
show that that was a fair plea bargain?
I think it's a just
punishment for the crime.
There's a difference between...
you know, because again, I can
never replace a life that was lost,
you know... this was, you
know, this... you can't do that.
So is this a fair... no.
Is it a just crime...
is it a just punishment?
Yes, I think it's a just punishment
because of the circumstances of the case.
He was being punished.
He is being punished based
on the facts of the case.
I'll never be able to replace what happened
to the Pattersons, never.
And it's a tragic event for them.
And as the court stated on the record
there at the sentencing,
it's a tragic event
all the way across the board for everybody.
The other son has to live with the fact
that he was the one who
wanted to go over there.
The girls have to reali...
have to live with the
fact they're the ones who
participated in inviting them
over there, how that all happened.
They all have to live
with the circumstances
of what they brought on.
And there's no other way to
describe it other than just a tragedy
for all parties involved.
Laub: We've all been teenagers before
and we've all snuck around
and we've all gone into houses late
at night when we weren't supposed to.
Actually, I have not. (Laughs)
Laub: All right. Well, I certainly
have done my share. I've done my share.
So you don't think race
had anything to do...
played any part in this case?
You can never say race doesn't
play a part in any case,
That's just a fact you have to deal with.
You asked me earlier did I think if
the boys had been of a different race,
whether or not the
facts would have changed.
Under the circumstances
that happened that night,
I don't think the outcome would have been
different no matter what.
It happened.
I just don't think it would have been.
Whatever that child did,
he didn't deserve to die.
And in the end, that's what this...
that's what this sentence shows.
And it shows everyone here
came to that conclusion.
It's the right conclusion.
And that's all I have to say.
Laub: Why do you think that the DA
was willing to reduce all those charges?
In my opinion,
it was done for a couple of reasons.
It was, one, done to save face
because Norman had a lot of supporters.
Laub: And when you say "save face,"
what does that mean exactly?
because of the support
that Norman had, you know...
the district attorney's
position is elected and...
you want everybody to think
you're doing the right thing
so that you can get the votes.
That's my thought.
(water bubbling)
Neesmith: I should have never went nowhere.
That's my belief
because I was defending myself.
When is it you can't defend yourself?
For me trying to do right and trying
to live the right kind of life...
and what I thought was going by the
laws and stuff, look what it got me.
It finished stripping me, you know?
Look what it got me.
Just trying to be and do the right thing.
This mess has cost me two years of my life.
And that boy's daddy
said it in that courtroom
and how bad they had to go
to the cemetery and all that.
That that man over there just
murdered his son and all that.
What the hell he think it done to me?
Like I told him in courtroom that
day and you probably remember,
I said, "You keep talking about...
you know, the loss you got
for your son and stuff,"
I said, "When your son died that night,
a big part of me died, too," you know?
And I didn't say no more.
But they never said nothing about me.
If their kid was so good, why
wasn't he home in their bed?
Why wasn't they home in their
bed, not at my house in my bed?
One of them said they had kids.
Why wasn't he home looking after his kids?
Why he's over here trying
to get some more, you know?
He should have been home looking
after his kids if he was a nice,
respectable boy like they said.
Why wasn't he home at 3:00 in the morning?
Why was he at my house
doped up and drinking?
And he said they was polite.
It was yes and no's and
yes, ma'am and no, ma'am.
"And he said, and I won't never forget
it, "I bet that's the way he was talking
to Mr. Neesmith that night
he shot him and killed him."
The boy never said a
word. He wouldn't talk.
The only thing he said that
made it... that I heard
when I was laying on the
floor when this happened,
he said, "The MF shot me."
Only he used the word.
Laub: What? I'm sorry. What did he say?
Well, when it all happened, he
said, "The motherfucker shot me."
After all he'd done... now
he'd done come in my house.
He'd done brought dope in my house.
We found dope all in there,
they brought in there.
And still I'm the motherfucker. What is he?
Tell me what he would have been.
That... do you see what I'm saying?
I was still the bad guy...
you know?
and I just want this...
I just want this mess to be over.
And it's going to be
over. This is the last day
I ever talk about this
stuff. It's going to be over.
But what I told you all is exactly,
just exactly what happened
at my house that night.
I'd have been better off
if they had killed me.
I believe that.
I still pray for that boy's mom
and daddy just about every night.
I bet they ain't said a word about me.
Julius: I know they say you got to forgive
so that you can move on, but...
to this day,
I haven't forgave him yet.
I'm not the same anymore.
I'm not the Julius that I used to be.
I look back at it and...
he texted me three times and...
that was the last I heard from him.
Laub: So I want to just
go back to that night.
I know it's hard, but...
can you tell me how you met Justin?
I'd known Justin for about
two years at the time.
I had lost his number
and we had lost contact some kind of way.
I don't know how it happened.
Then all of a sudden,
it's just like, bam, we have contact again.
- And...
- How did you have contact again?
Well, I was on Facebook and all
of a sudden I had a friend request
and it said, "Justin Burr
Patterson." I was like,
"Wait a minute. That can't
be who I think it is."
So I went ahead and I opened it.
I was like, "Oh, my God, it is."
So it was like, bam,
automatic connection again.
I was like, "Yes!"
So we started, you know,
communicating and all again
and everything was going good.
That... actually, the next day,
he was supposed to be coming to the house,
you know, to hang out and everything.
But things didn't
exactly turn out that way.
It bothers me. I still have nightmares.
Whew. I mean, I wake up in
the middle of the night,
just sitting there shivering and shaking,
and my boyfriend's like... wakes up a lot,
"What's wrong with
you?" I'm like, "Nothing.
I'm just having nightmares
again. Just go back to sleep."
And he'll be like, "Just accept it
and, you know, maybe you won't
have the nightmares anymore."
I said, "It's kind of hard to
accept it after you done accepted
what happened and you're
still having the nightmares."
I said, "Whenever you see something
like that, you just can't forget it.
It's going to stick with you for a while."
He said, "But it's been two years."
And I can't let it go.
I can't. I try to let it go
and I can't let it go.
I mean, I'm sorry for his family
and I really am,
but I can't let it go. I mean,
I have a necklace he gave me
the same night that he died
and I won't let nobody touch it.
I mean, I've wore it every
day for the last year.
Whenever it happened, I wore it every day.
And then all of a sudden,
I just stopped wearing it.
But I'd take it everywhere with
me. I don't leave it nowhere.
I don't go nowhere without it.
Everywhere I go, I take that necklace.
It's just... it's... it's like the
only piece of him that I have left.
My dad, I'm happy he's home.
Man, as soon as he got home, he called me.
I looked like a kid on Christmas morning.
I haven't talked to him in over a year, so,
I'm glad he's home but I just...
I wish he didn't have to go
through what he went through.
My dad's never showed any
kind of anger towards anyone.
I mean, he wouldn't hurt a fly.
He's just a big old teddy bear.
He might look like he's
mean, but he's a teddy bear.
You couldn't meet anybody
softer than my dad.
My father was disowned for 20 years
by his family because of
the fact that I am biracial.
But if he would have been black, he
wouldn't have been home like he is now.
I really believe that.
He wouldn't have been.
Laub: Norman, have you seen Danielle yet?
Neesmith: Mm-mmm.
Laub: How come?
That's something else you...
if you turn your back on your kids,
then I think you're a pretty
sorry fellow. I don't...
I don't care what they do,
you got to be there for them
because if you ain't, nobody will.
No matter what they do.
You don't have to condone
them in their wrong doings,
but you got to be there
for them when they do wrong.
Danielle: I can't stay
in the house no more.
I guess it's because of what happened
in it, but I can't stay there.
For the first time, I'm glad
I can't go home and stay.
I really am.
And I love home.
It's somewhere I've always
wanted to go back to,
but I'm glad I can't stay in the house.
I really am.
Ooh, touchy subject, touchy subject.
I'm good. I'm so good. Hold on.
But the first year, it was
the hardest year for me.
- Second year, it was a little easier
but I made it through it.
Everybody's making it
through it, I suppose.
But that's all we can do.
We can just live it one day at a
time and got to move on from it.
But it's just the simple
fact that somebody was taken.
Somebody's dad was taken
and somebody's son was taken.
And like everybody says, "You're
not supposed to bury your child."
that's one of my biggest fears now.
Because, I mean, I can only imagine how
that feeling felt for his family.
Because I have a little girl
and I don't want to have to sit there
and have bury her when she's only like 21,
22, I would hate to have to do that.
So I understand what they feel about that,
but I couldn't even imagine
what they was really feeling.
But I understand how they feel but...
it's something that I wouldn't
ever want to have to go through.
And I feel bad for them
and I'm sorry, but...
if it couldn't ever happen and if
I could take it all back, I would.
I really would because it was childish.
It was stupid.
I should have been...
stepped up and, you know,
stopped everything before
it even got to where it got.
But I didn't. And the fact that I didn't,
like I said, that's what makes
me feel like all of it's my fault
because I didn't do anything about it.
I didn't try to stop
it. I went along with it.
And it's...
I'm learning to deal with it.
Calvin: Can't tell you what
happened. All I can tell you,
I was winning the election.
All of a sudden, I lost the election.
I can't tell you exactly what happened.
I can tell you
undoubtedly a lot of people lied to me.
Undoubtedly things didn't go
the way I thought they would go.
After... after all that,
he only lost by a hundred votes
and we can't find out where
those hundred votes came from.
We can't find out where it come from.
Asked for a recount, they
couldn't give him one.
They couldn't give him a recount
because he didn't have
a reason for a recount.
That's reason enough.
"I think I got cheated."
You know? But they did something,
I just don't know what they did, you know?
Calvin: Can't be experience.
That's out of the question
when I had 30 years, this guy had none.
Keyke: Which would you choose?
Like, why would you want a
man that has zero experience,
has never did this before in his life,
to run our county? Like, why?
That's retarded. That's dumb.
That broke my heart.
It took me a little while to get over it.
I cried. I let my family down.
I let some good citizens down.
They just broke a lot of us hearts.
Like I said, it took
me a while to get over.
This is South Georgia.
That's all I can tell
you, it's South Georgia.
People ain't ready for a black
sheriff in Montgomery County.
I've been told that in my face.
Which they didn't use the word black.
"Don't want a nigger for a sheriff.
There ain't no nigger going to be
a sheriff in Montgomery County."
And it's been proven.
Papa. Papa.
Papa, what... what... what's these?
Keyke: It's more white people than black.
They like... they love my daddy.
But what white person want a black
person telling them what to do?
Well, that's my theory
and I'm sticking to it.
They don't want a black
man to have power over them.
They don't want a black man
to make more money than them.
(speaking indistinctly)
Keyke: That was the final
straw. I mean, that was it.
That was the final. That
was the end, you know?
I've learned to bite my tongue.
You know, as a black child,
you learn to bite your tongue.
You're going to be called this,
you're going to be called that.
But you can't act on ignorance, you know?
You can't be ignorant
because they're ignorant.
You can't be that way. But
that was just it for me.
Like, why should I be silent of stupidity?
I shouldn't have to. And I'm not.
I had to do what I thought or I think
that's best for me and my child,
which is get away from here.
I know there's something better than this
out there for me and my child.
I don't want her to see
the things that I've seen.
And, no, I haven't seen the things
that Mom and Daddy have seen,
but I've seen enough.
This was enough for me.
So I just couldn't... I can't come back.
Even before the actual election date,
I've always said if my daddy doesn't win,
I can't live here. I can't live here.
I had some powerful people tell me
only reason why you was
down here for the prom.
I had some powerful people
tell me that you're the reason.
I'm the reason why you was
down here for the election.
This small town of Mount
Vernon just ain't used to it.
You scare them because they don't want
the world to know what's
happening in Mount Vernon, Georgia.
In Montgomery County.
- I don't think anybody else is going with
mixed colors.
This is it.
Me and Brooke, we've
known each other forever.
- Like since grade school.
Beecher: I went to the prom
when it was whites only,
but it wasn't really as fun
as when it was together, not to me.
Everybody should be together.
We all go to the school together.
We... I mean, we grew up together.
They're in school, so why
not go to prom together?
Better keep that button in line.
- Okay. Okay. I could do that for you.
- Okay. Thanks.
Peeples: Two years ago, it was segregated.
You had the white prom and you had
a black prom and that was that.
Nobody said anything about it.
Like after proms, we probably got together,
but you could not have went to
a white prom if you were black
and vice versa if it was
them and stuff like that.
It's really great to finally
come together as one and do it.
Beecher: I've heard that I was
too pretty to date black boys.
I mean, I don't care
what they say about it.
It's me. I ain't going to
let nobody tell me what to do.
I don't care what they say about it.
The Mexicans, when it was
segregated prom, they went any way.
They were lucky.
They could go the black way
or the white way, you know?
They were real cool. Because
I know this one Mexican.
His name's Fabian. He
used to take advantage.
(music playing)
Come on, come on, I see no changes
Wake up in the morning
and I ask myself
"Is life worth living?
Should I blast myself?"
I'm tired of bein' poor
and even worse I'm black
My stomach hurts, so I'm
looking for a purse to snatch
Cops give a damn about a negro?
Pull a trigger, kill
a nigga, he's a hero
Give the crack to the
kids, who the hell cares?
One less hungry
mouth on the welfare
First ship 'em dope and let
em' deal to the brothers
Give 'em guns, step back,
watch 'em kill each other
"It's time to fight back,"
that's what Huey said
Two shots in the
dark, now Huey's dead
I got love for my brother,
but we can never go nowhere
Unless we share with each other
We gotta start making changes
Learn to see me as a brother
instead of two distant strangers
And that's how it's supposed to be
How can the Devil take a
brother if he's close to me?
I'd love to go back to
when we played as kids
But things change, and
that's the way it is it
Come on, come on,
That's just the way it is
Things will never be the same
That's just the way it is
Oh, yeah
Oh, come on, come on
That's just the way it is
The way it is
Things will never be the same
Never be the same
That's just the way it is
Oh, yeah, that's the way it is
The way it is, oh, yeah,
Some things never change
You're my brother, you're my sister
That's just the way it is
The way it is, the way it is
Things will never be the same
You're my brother, you're my sister
That's just the way it is
Oh, yeah
Some things will never change.
(music playing)
We're so invincible
We won't get old
Our hearts are made of metal
Our dreams are rather cold
How dare we run
straight into trouble?
Our touch feels magical
We're praying that
our dust turns to gold
Don't know which way to go
Oh, but I know
We know the past
We hold the memories
We learned to face impossibilities
We see the future
We hold the key
We're standing right
Where we're supposed to be
We still believe
We still believe
We're standing right
Where we're supposed to be
We still believe
We still believe
We're standing right
Where we're supposed to be
We still believe
We're speeding down the road
Heart racing
Foot pressed to the pedal
To the highest heights
We'll grow
Oh, keep moving
Big dream never settled
Nobody showed me
the secret code
But I'm ready and I'll
break through the window
Don't know which way to go
Oh, but I know
We know the past
We hold the memories
We learned to face impossibilities
We see the future
We hold the key
We're standing right
Where we're supposed to be
We still believe
We still believe
We're standing right
Where we're supposed to be
We still believe
We still believe
We're standing right
Where we're supposed to be
We still believe.