Two Towns of Jasper | Chicago Reader

Two Towns of Jasper

Marco Williams and Whitney Dow devised an unusual approach to examining the brutal 1998 torture-murder of James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to his death by three men in a truck in Jasper, Texas: during the murderers' trial a black crew taped black residents and a white crew taped whites, underlining the racial divide between them. The history of the town creeps in: A fence had long separated white and black sections in the town cemetery. One white kid explains that the Confederate flag just means “kick-ass” and thinks blacks take it “real personal”; a nicely turned out but very obese woman criticizes Byrd's less-than-exemplary life; meanwhile the Byrd family want the death penalty for his three killers (two of whom were covered with racist and Nazi tattoos). But nothing can really explain the opening images of a rural road stained with Byrd's blood and flesh, which seem to make the crime's horror irreducible. 90 min.

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