Video Is Clearwater at Its Worst

Demorris A. Lee, St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, October 11, 2007

If a fight breaks out in the North Greenwood area, Allan Burney is usually there, video camera in hand.

Burney and childhood friend Cortez Hearns, both 19, chronicle street life in their neighborhood: fights in the middle of Martin Luther King Avenue, gyrating girls in G-strings and police trying to control the pandemonium. After two years, they had so much footage they decided to make a DVD.

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Their video, Da Hood Gone Wild, is a nocturnal montage of street brawls, drug deals, naked girls and cars cruising in North Greenwood, where a 23-year-old man died Monday after someone shot into the car he was riding in, causing it to crash.

The violence is nothing new for the neighborhood, which has long struggled with high crime and poverty. Burney and Hearns said they just show the reality of North Greenwood, especially when the sun goes down.

“This is a documentary,” said Hearns, who now attends Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo.

“We never paid anybody,” he said. “We never asked anybody to do anything. It just happens. Fights just happen. Stuff just happens. This is what happens every day in the world that some of us live.”

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Commercials for the video can be seen late at night on Black Entertainment Television. Several aired Monday night during VH-1’s Hip Hop Honors show.

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While the images are extreme, they show only the most ragged parts of the community fabric in North Greenwood. On Wednesday night, family and friends of Michael Scott, the man who died Monday, came together for a peaceful vigil in his memory.

The DVD does not include sexual acts, but it shows plenty of violence.

Two pit bulls lock during a fight, separated only after a stick is used to pry their jaws apart. A woman tries to hit another woman with a baseball bat during a fight. A man is stomped repeatedly by a group of about five men.

It’s easy to tell that most of the video was filmed in Clearwater. The city’s officers are clearly recognizable as they try to break up the fights, often while taking verbal abuse from people on the sidelines.

In one scene, a man coming to the community to buy drugs is chased out by a chorus of laughter from several youths. Another would-be drug buyer is pursued and his bicycle stolen. All of it is caught on tape.

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Burney and Hearns said they expect to produce two more volumes of Da Hood Gone Wild. The second is scheduled to be released by year’s end.

“Everybody likes fights,” Burney said. “You need four things for these to sell: fights, girls, police and cars. And it’s not against the law to carry a video camera. They are public streets that we are filming.”

Mildred Burney, Burney’s mother, said the movie exposes how people really live in the neighborhood. She just wishes her son would show some of the good that’s going on as well.

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