Documentary Examines Pit Bull Ban In Lakewood As Push For Repeal Continues

Guilty Til Proven Innocent, a documentary by River Fire Films of Lakewood.

River Fire Films is presenting a free screening of the documentary "Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent" on October 20 at the main library, to be followed by a community forum. Both film and forum will examine breed specific legislation (BSL) which restricts or prohibits ownership of certain types of dogs, primarily pit bulls.

Lakewood's BSL ordinance has been drawing new attention recently, following the city's decision to evict "Charlie," a pit bull owned by resident Jennifer Scott. After initially approving Charlie, the city reversed its decision, prompting sizable protests at city hall and "I'm With Charlie" yard signs' arrival on nearly every street in Lakewood.

"Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent" has nonetheless been a work in progress for a decade, according to River Fire Films founder Jeff Theman. According to Theman, he actually began planning a documentary in response to NFL quarterback Michael Vick's conviction for dog fighting in 2007. Soon after, however, Lakewood City Council took up breed-specific legislation. Theman, then a Lakewood resident, was in the process of adopting a pit bull. He changed his work's focus to BSL, and began documenting the debate in Lakewood as a case study.

Theman released an early "Rescue Version" of "Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent" in 2013, followed by a couple dozen screenings around the country. Last year, Theman began planning an updated version of the film. "We decided to revisit the idea of doing a reboot with a more strategic plan to finally put an end to breed discrimination globally," he says.

The Lakewood Community Dog Safety Forum and screening of "Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent" are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on October 20, in the auditorium of Lakewood Public Library. The event is free, but seating is limited to 100 and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

Matt Kuhns is a freelance graphic designer, and occasional author.Matt Kuhns is a freelance graphic designer, and occasional author.

Matt Kuhns is a freelance graphic designer, and occasional author.

Matt Kuhns

Matt Kuhns is a freelance graphic designer, and occasional author.

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Volume 13, Issue 20, Posted 12:05 PM, 10.17.2017