Tomorrow will be the first Prince William County screening of the completed film 9500 Liberty.

From 9500 Liberty Press Release:

Woodbridge, VA (October 6, 2009) — Residents of Prince William County are hopeful that a film screening will restart dialogue about an immigration culture war that divided the county in 2007 and 2008. Friday’s 8 PM showing of 9500 Liberty, hosted by St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Woodbridge, will be the first ever presentation of the film with Spanish subtitles. An interpreter will facilitate discussion between residents and county officials following the award-winning documentary.

“Two years later, there remain a lot of hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and mistrust on all sides of this issue,” said Carlos Castro, founder of the Ayuda Business Coalition. “The language barrier is part of that, so hopefully having the immigrant community talk about this film together with police officials and members of the Board of Supervisors will be a significant step toward reconciliation.”

Friday, October 9, 2009 at 8:00 PM
St. Paul’s Methodist Church
1400 G. Street
Woodbridge, VA 22191
Admission: $10

9500 Liberty tracks the fate of the most controversial aspect of Prince William County’s Immigration Resolution, a mandate that required police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they had “probable cause” to suspect was an undocumented immigrant. As racial and political turmoil rose to a fever pitch, the Board of County Supervisors granted emergency funding for the “probable cause” mandate on October 16, 2007, only to repeal it two months into its implementation.


9500 Liberty won the Jury Award for Best Documentary at the Charlotte Film Festival on September 24, then sold out its Washington DC premiere on October 1 turning dozens away. “Over the years, American documentaries have become, increasingly, the better films that I see,” remarked film critic Desson Thomson who hosted the DC event. “Tonight is no exception. And I think what’s most powerful about this film is the people who evolve — who go from a vote that was made under duress and fear, to a vote of principle and courage.”

From Eric Byler email:

I am putting finishing touches on the bilingual version of 9500 Liberty.  Spanish subtitles for the English parts.  English subtitles for the Spanish parts.  It’s like seeing the world in color for the first time!

If you ever want to fully appreciate what happened here in 2007 and 2008, if you care enough to really know, see the film with us Friday night sitting among members of the Spanish speaking community, with members of our county government, and members of our law enforcement community.  I think it will be a cathartic experience to collectively process the events that unfold in the film while in a gathering that is truly representative of our community, with the language barrier cast aside, and shared comprehension for the first time since the whole thing began.  No matter where you stood on the controversy when it all went down, even if you think you’re firmly entrenched on one “side” or the other, I think this experience will bring you closer to understanding where the “other side” is coming from.

Please invite the readers and contributors at to come to our screening.  Many of them are characters in the story, both on screen and off.  There are many in this community who hope and expect that this event will be a step toward healing, truth, and reconciliation.  With everyone’s participation, I think it will be.

71 Thoughts to “Church Screening of “9500 Liberty” a Step Toward Reconciliation”

  1. I posted my initial reactions here on my own blog:

    But several other things have come to mind.

    It has always bothered me the way GL and clan have used military terminology to express their intent. That usage came through loud and clear when GL was talking to the conservative party and Duecaster talking to just about anyone.

    Both of them have served in the military and now, they are using what they know to threaten people HERE. They don’t do it by sending emails that say, “I am going to kill you.” They do it subtly online and in person. They try to intimidate. They carry weapons. They SAY they are carrying weapons. And they know they can do whatever they want so long as they package it as free speech and the right to bear arms.

    I have always resented GL and Duecaster using their military backgrounds for their own purposes before, but after reviewing those sections of the film (mentioned above) and analyzing their language and tactics, I resent it even more.

    We have soldiers out in the field RIGHT NOW fighting for their very lives in the Middle East. We have families suffering because Mommy and Daddy are gone to war. People are being killed in the streets of Baghdad, yet GL and Duester are referring to CHILDREN as weapons right here in our country. An invasion?

    Put them both on the REAL front lines and then we can talk about an invasion. If they are that hungry for war, then let them go fight one. But they are NOT allowed to continue one here on our soil.

    The first gentleman with a question for the panel asked Chief Deane if anyone was keeping an eye on HSM/BVBL because they have weapons and have said they will use them. Chief Deane, of course, legally can’t say too much on that. However, if the Chief is smart (which he is) then yes, he is keeping tabs on the people who believe that any old excuse for violence will do. They are dangerous and should be treated as such.

    Non-violent people don’t run around talking about themselves like they are real “foot soldiers” and say they are coming back with weapons. Non-violent people don’t try to create fear and hostility which was what was created in those HSM meetings. Non-violent people don’t try to dehumanize others and in the hopes that those “others” will be persecuted enough to want to leave.

    We have a real threat of domestic terrorism sitting right in our back yards. I hope someone is paying attention.

  2. Red Dawn

    I thought the movie was great. It was nice to see some of you that I have not seen in awhile.
    You look fabulous and I am sorry I didn’t get a chance to say hello be fore you left.

  3. Last Best Hope

    I agree the discussion was a real disappointment. I don’t know how to make it better though. Certainly a time limit on those darn questions.
    As for the military and war approach that Letiecq and Duecaster took, well that’s politics in a majority rules democracy. There were only a few dozen active members in that group. Gainesville is only one of seven districts. It was 40 people trying to rewrite the Constitution and take over a county government with 360,000 residents. If you are outnumbered you use intimidation tactics, that’s just what you do, and yes even threats of violence to get the government to do what you want. These military rejects in our county are certainly no worse than the Death Panel fanatics, at least they had some semblance of an argument that a war or invasion framework was called for.

    There have always been insurgent groups and there have always been intimidation tactics. The question is what can ordinary citizens do to protect against these tactics?

    I am open to suggestions on this. Some how the quotient of racial difference drives people bananas and it is very easy to manipulate that into a political force. There is no ready counter force that I am aware of, other than the sort of courage we saw in the second half of the film. I am confident that America will defeat these tactics in the long term. My fear is that there is not enough courage within the Republican party to defeat an attack from within.

  4. Opinion

    Last Best Hope, Ordinary citizens can fight back. How about an organization called 9500 Liberty Street in the County? There’s an election coming up next year, now is the time to start educating the public and “counting votes”.

    Stories such as this don’t get better with age (and remember the election coming up next year). Perhaps it would be worth investing a bit to send copies of this movie out to the VFW, American Legion, Chamber of Commerce, Optimists, Churches, Synagogs, Mosques, etc., etc., etc., to tell “the rest of the story” regarding what happened here. Christian churches will be particularly offended by the mis-use of Christianity and biblical quotes to justify what is clearly (IMHO) an “un-Christian” and “un-charitable” course of action. The absence of Hispanics in the audience was noticed by many. Has this movie been shown in venues where Hispanics actually “hang out” (now that it has subtitles)?

    I’m guessing the Democratic Party might just buy a few hundred of the CD version of this story… and start telling it now (I would). I’m surprised the Democratic Party isn’t using this movie, the events of 2007 & 2008, and Frank Principi’s bold leadership as the centerpiece of their campaign for 2010! I would add a plug for donations at the end of the movie and a web site to collect them (tax deductable, I understand there’s a 501c3 involved) to keep the story going (and that time of year when some of us make donations for tax purposes is coming up quickly).

    While there are a few good men on the current BOCS, I wouldn’t want to be a Republican in Prince William County next year IF the Democratic Party really understands the power of this Movie’s message and the shifting demographics of PWC – did someone mention 20% Hispanic now? I also understand that minorities are behind the housing “boom” (affordable housing for immigrants). I would be out registering those folks.

    That’s just my opinion.

  5. Emma

    I’m curious as to what Chief Deane’s actual answer was to the question about keeping tabs on HSM/BVBL that Pinko mentioned. Anyone?

  6. Lafayette

    Emma, he told the guy who was sacarstic when he posed his question basically all those that were suspected of breaking the law were be watched. Note: this is not a direct quote from Chief Deane. I think those want to be “scared” of something will always find something or someone to blame. geesh.

    I really felt the kid was being a total smart ass in his question. He sure didn’t seem to have any concern for those on the other side of the issue’s safety. hmmm. Why not be concerned about the safey of ALL HUMAN BEINGS.

  7. Moon-howler

    Chief Deane, of course, legally can’t say too much on that.

    He didn’t specifically comment. Why would he give his political enemies any advantage?

  8. Elena

    There was not a direct answer. He was very vague and left me with the impression that exercising your first amendment rights was not the issue.

  9. Moon-howler

    Under the Patriot Act, law enforcement can swoop in and do pretty much anything they deem necessary to protect the homeland or individuals. If someone comes knocking at the door for IP addresses, they aren’t going to have to beat my door down.

  10. Unsure

    I am interested in the person in the film who was, I think, the membership director of Help Save Manassas. She seemed to have a change of heart when HSM went after Chief Deane. Did I get that right? There was laughter while she was speaking so it was hard to hear what she said.

  11. WatchedIt

    The discussion was disappointing. In addition to several of the questioners, Marty Nohe spoke way too long in answering every question he was asked. I thought he came off well in the movie also, but it did not seem like he thought so. Then again, others have told me he tends to go on at length regardless, so maybe that’s all it was.

  12. Last Best Hope

    Opinion, the film exposes the flaws in extremist Republican theology/political philosophy. That would be two members of the BOCS. I thought Caddigan, Nohe, May, and Covington came off quite well. They kept their cool under fire, stood up to intimidation tactics when necessary, and guided the county to a policy that adheres to the Constitutional while still addressing some of the concerns of the radical right. That’s what I took away from the film. The entire Board cannot be painted with a broad brush for the actions of only two. If you were to ask me the two that came off looking worst were Democrats.

    So if this film is used to encourage the Virginia Republican party to allow more mainstream candidates to emerge from a primary process instead of a smoke filled room, that would be fine by me. But if it is used to slam Republicans in general and celebrate Democrats, the public will see through that. We suffered through that unfortunate experience together, not as separate parties, and we fixed the policy together, not on a party line.

  13. Moon-howler

    The film needs to fully expose Corey Stewart. He wanted to ensure he won an election. I wished I had seen the segmant where he sent the email from his colleagues to the It is only when all the political tricks are exposed in the light of day that this kind of dirty deals will halt. All of the misdeeds should be documented and follow Corey. Who will be the next political victims when he needs to win another election?

  14. Opinion

    Last Best Hope,

    My observations are what could happen… neither you nor I will actually decide what does happen. I’m an independent voter. The scenario I presented is purely hypothetical. The hypothetical strategy I proposed would be up to contemporary campaign standards (unless you missed the Deeds/McDonnell campaign, didn’t watch the last Presidential election, or don’t follow contemporary political campaigns in general).

    We were not well served on this issue by some of those we elected (although I agree some were better than others). It is a fair point of discussion for the next round of campaigns. IMHO, too many innocent people and businesses were hurt to let this one go by without examination and discussion. I believe the point worth exploring is the influence an un-elected private organization had on implementing policy. The film clearly exposed the actual author of the infamous “resolution” (and it wasn’t the folks we voted for). The movie 9500Liberty is phosphorous in the hands of Democrats when engaging in such discussions. I suspect this weapon will be deployed early and with extreme prejudice.

    But then, I’m an independent… and my post was purely hypothetical… and our opinions on this issue really don’t matter that much (unless you are someone’s campaign manager). The only opinion that will matter is the one we take into the voting booth.

    I guess I’m thinking “Never again” these days.

  15. Opinion

    Knowing that a recognized hate group authored Prince William County public policy offends me. It should offend everyone.

  16. Last Best Hope

    Opinion, yes indeed. The most important thing the film does for county residents is put the words “never again” firmly in our minds. The hate group classification, as I understand it, comes from a series of “guilt by association” trails, something I don’t readily go for unless the evidence is solid.

    It bothers me more that they are from outside the county, and from all places K Street, and that their interests, which seem to be fighting immigration in general not just illegal immigration, is not consistent with American values. They would have looked forward with glee to our being sued by the feds over this policy. It would have given them a chance to challenge Constitutional protections, etc., but it would have bankrupted the county.

  17. Rick Bentley

    “Knowing that a recognized hate group authored Prince William County public policy offends me. It should offend everyone.”

    Hey, if that is true – and I’m not stipulating that it is, I’m not familiar with the arguement – I would still support the resolution. Strongly. Just as I support the US Constitution and government, founded and defined by slaveholders who were prone to boning their daughter’s enslaved playfriends.

    But I have to question the precepts here. The “Southern Poverty Law Center”? That’s who you’re relying on for your semantics?

  18. Rick Bentley

    You know, I can create a website and an organization that defines the Southern Poverty Law center as racist, or pro-pedophile, or whatever.

  19. @Red Dawn
    Thanks, Red! Sorry I didn’t see you! I had to cut out shortly after the discussion began. Sounds like I didn’t miss too much.

  20. @Moon-howler
    It could be that, but it’s more, I think. Several people have lodged complaints against GL and the clan. Deane has to be very careful about how those complaints are handled, even if he isn’t addressing them directly.

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