Kill the Messenger Features Footage from Black Leaders Including Min. Farrakhan
It’s the based on a true story type film that hits home for community activists, journalists, conspiracy theorists and anyone who’s been negatively impacted by the so-called war on drugs launched by President Ronald Reagan.
This film, Kill the Messenger, details how Gary Webb, played by Jeremy Renner, a reporter for The San Jose Mercury News stumbled upon and published, in August 1996, a devastating expose’ detailing how the CIA orchestrated the importation of cocaine from Nicaragua as well as its distribution in the form of crack cocaine in the black community of South Central Los Angeles.
Youth predominately ignored the “Say No to Drugs” ad campaign featuring the Reagans and many people were skeptical of their sincerity. But prior to Webb’s reporting, unless you were listening the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, few would have guessed that while these TV commercials ran on stations across America, the U.S. government’s Central Intelligence Agency was setting in motion all the necessary components of the modern day prison industrial complex: Black on Black crime, drug addiction, disproportionate ethnic incarceration, jobs in white, rural America and a validation for conspiracy theory researchers.
Enter the “Dark Alliance,” a 20,000-word series written by Webb, who was first brushed off, praised, and then marginalized for revealing such explosive information.
“Webb stumbles onto a story which leads to the shady origins of the men who started the crack epidemic on the nation’s streets and further alleges that the CIA was aware of major dealers who were smuggling cocaine into the U.S., and using the profits to arm rebels fighting in Nicaragua,” reads the movie’s synopsis.
The film shows how Webb, fueled by the true spirit of investigative journalism, Webb travels from prisons in California and Nicaragua to the highest corridors of power in Washington, D.C. Along the way, Webb was warned at various times from a government official, a drug lord and CIA operatives to stop his investigation.
Webb was not intimidated and with the support of his editors, ran the piece. Webb had no official CIA sources, but he supported his allegations with declassified documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. The film shows how he was praised and envied by competing publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the L.A. Times.
Black activists went into action demanding government accountability and restitution for ushering in a generation of crack addicts and crack babies. Shown in the film were real scenes from Rev. Al Sharpton and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) who took to the congressional floor to warn that “Somebody’s going to have to pay for what they have done to my people.”
The film also showed a clip from the Min. Farrakhan who says in the short clip that the revelation was a “Smoking cannon that leads all the way to the White House.”
In fact, Webb’s work was vindication of earlier statements made by Min. Farrakhan in various lectures made in as early as the late 80s which charged the so-called War on Drugs efforts to actually be a war on Black youth under the guise of gangs, drugs and youth violence.
On June 25, 1989 Min. Farrakhan addressed nearly 1,200 prodominately youth, many of them street organization leaders at Mosque Maryam in Chicago and told them of the government’s conspiracy to destroy Black youth. He opened with these words:
“Our community and black youth in particular are about to become the victims of a conspiracy emanating from the government of the United States that is designed to bring about the destruction of our youth.”
He continued, “And the conspiracy is so deep and diabolical that many of you will not even believe that at this very moment…your lives hang in the balance. … Brothers, you are playing into the hand of your enemy and he is using you to set up your destruction,” said the Minister in that lecture.
In a complete turnabout, prominent newspapers such as the New York Times that at first praised Webb criticized him for suggesting the very notion that the CIA could possibly be behind the dissemination of crack in the inner-city. Unfortunately, as the movie shows, the revelations took a huge toll on Gary Webb, whose name was tarnished. He lost his career and it stressed an already strained family life that, according to the movie, was also threatened
Ultimately, Webb died under mysterious circumstances. He was found in shot in the head twice in his apartment in 2004. It was ruled a suicide.
The film features an A-list cast also including Ray Liotta, Barry Pepper, Tim Blake Nelson, Andy Garcia, Oliver Platt, Michael Sheen, Robert Patrick and Paz Vega.
Excellent (5 stars)
Rated R for profanity and drug use
Running time: 112 minutes
Distributor: Focus Features