DVD Review: 9500 Liberty

December 8, 2010

9500 Liberty is a riveting documentary that captures the anti-immigrant debate in Prince William County, VA. Filmmakers and Coffee Party USA founders Annabel Park and Eric Byler capture the often-painful footage of neighbors pitted against each other as a county tries to oust all of its Latino “illegal aliens.” It begins with a conservative white blogger dubbed “Black Velvet Bruce Li” who teams up with a local politician to pass a heinous law that targets everyone who doesn’t look white or speaks another language. At the heart of the debate are the people directly affected — the immigrants, the children and even the police chief who’s caught in the crossfire — leading to many emotional, knot-in-your-throat moments. But people who are oppressed will rise up — and they do, with unlikely allies like Republican-moms-turned-bloggers. Byler and Park began uploading the footage to YouTube in 2007 while filming, in pieces, as the issues were unfolding. The feature-length film is the final product of the footage, but the real debate over immigration continues across the nation. The lessons from the film are as important as ever: what happens when xenophobic mob mentality goes unchecked online and in the public arena. Extras include deleted scenes and interviews with the directors.

Directed by Annabel Park and Eric Byler

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Momo Chang

Senior Contributing Editor

Momo Chang is the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media, and freelances for magazines, online publications, and weeklies. Her writings focus on Asian American communities, communities of color, and youth culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Her stories range from uncovering working conditions in nail salons, to stories about “invisible minorities” like Tongan youth and Iu Mien farmers. She has freelances The New York Times, WIRED, and East Bay Express, among other publications.



Having grown up for a couple years in Prince William County, I do agree that there is extreme hate for illegals particularly in areas such as Manassas where the proportion of hispanic residents accelerated. This hate would be exponentially increased to racial law-making proportions due to the fact that the area is primarily made up of White residents with little exposure to cultural education in school and in public. Additionally, I find it strange that such actions could have taken place when Washington D.C. and its surrounding suburbs are highly multi-ethnic and as far as I have experienced, quite accepting of various cultures. I should add that in the DC area that I speak of, most individuals are highly educated and the K-12 education is excellent as well. Individuals in Prince William are not nearly as educated and are a very hard barrier between the "Southern Virginians" and the "Northern Virginians."