An unfiltered look at the Friend of a Friend Program's efforts to build community in Gilmor Homes of Baltimore.
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Marshall "Eddie" Conway was a Leader of the Baltimore chapter of the Black Panther Party. Conway was released from prison on March 4, 2014 after having served 43 years and 11 months. He is currently a producer at the Real News Network.
EDDIE CONWAY, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Like for the last year, since--after I got out of prison, I've been down here trying to figure out how to make this court whole again in terms of repairing the broken basketball poles. We got a lot of people that came on board to help us. We got the money to do it, donations. We got the companies that certified, that qualified to do it. We got the contractors that's going to actually do the work. The city said we needed to have--the Housing Authority said we needed to have insurance to do it.We got the American Friends Service Committee to cover the insurance, indemnity for anybody that might get hurt or injured while we are repairing this stuff. The official company that's going to do it has state certification for doing basketball courts. And now the Housing Authority officials refuse to let us do it because they're worried about the consequences later.KEVIN LAWSON, PRESIDENT OF GILMOR HOMES: And there's a lot of people around--that live right here wants to fix--.CONWAY: Let's look at this one over here, because this--it looks like it has a backboard, but there's--.LAWSON: There's the backboard on there, but the rim is not there.CONWAY: But there's no rim there.LAWSON: You can see the rim's been broken.
GEORGE WAITE, MEMBER OF LITTLE FALLS FRIENDS MOVEMENT: But that's what I mean, but if--but this also should show that we don't have to necessarily have everybody's cooperation if we just get a little bit of, you know, I mean help. I mean, it's--I don't know. After today's over and I can--I got a lot of things to say about what's been going on.WILLIAM BULLEYE, RESIDENT OF GILMOR HOMES: They used to have rec centers all through the city, you know what I mean? So when you got out of school you had somewhere to go other than hang out in the streets. [Which is now] all they've got. They've got no rec centers, nowhere in the city. They came up with the Boys and Girls club in the county, because you're on the [inaud.] some kid that might--.SPEAKER: But that's for the county.BULLEYE: They ain't got it down here, though.DARNELL LEE, RESIDENT OF GILMOR HOMES: I been living here almost ten years. I got five kids. And even though there's no court out here my kids still come out and play. You know, they might throw the ball up on the hoop. This one don't have none, that don't have none. You know, it'll be great because the kids still play over here regardless of what's over here. This is like a playground for them, but it's nothing over here. So they got to bring their own--you know, whatever they want to play with.
JANET COTTRELL, RESIDENT OF GILMOR HOMES: I think this is nice. The children need somewhere to come and play. It's a good start for us. I think it'll bring a lot of peace and happiness. And I'm glad y'all came in and helped us out. Because we [in housing] whatever. But I appreciate y'all being here. I really do. I really do.JAMES BRESWELL, RESIDENT OF GILMOR HOMES: It's always good to help out with your community, man. You know, so much going on as far as with [pigs] and the system and you know, children and youth generations after generations coming up--you know man, it's always a pleasure to help out. But I appreciate y'all coming around here, man. You know, helping out as much as we, assisting y'all, you know. Any time y'all come around here and help out with the kids, you know what I'm saying. Far as with us--you know, and they got some tending to, the community, you know what I mean.CONWAY: It's taken years. This court has been in disrepair. We have been in contact with people in the City Hall. In the City Council. Officials, et cetera. Nothing was done. Finally people decided to do it themselves. This is the result of it. And there's still two more left to be done, we're going to do it. But we want to see that the young people in this area have someplace to play other than on an empty court.
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