HBO’s “We Own This City” premiered April 25th, reopening a wound that runs deep for Baltimore residents affected by police corruption. (AP Photos)

By AFRO Staff

A new HBO miniseries, “We Own This City,” has refocused attention on the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) and the corrupt officers of the BPD Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) that terrorized the city for years.

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the six-episode series is based on the book, “We Own This City,” written by Justin Fenton, a former reporter for the Baltimore Sun. The show, written by Baltimore-native D. Watkins, premiered on April 25. There are currently two episodes that can be streamed on HBO Max and Watkins has an accompanying podcast for both episodes.

Set in Baltimore City, the show highlights the real-life actions of former BPD police sergeant, Wayne Jenkins, played by Jon Bernthal of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and “The Punisher” by Marvel Comics. 

The GTTF was a unit within the Baltimore City Police Department, created to disrupt violent gun crime and gun sales in Baltimore. However, in 2017, six out of the eight GTTF members, Thomas Allers, Wayne Jenkins, Momodu Gondo, Evodio Hendrix, Jemell Rayam, and Maurice Ward, were indicted and pleaded guilty to charges from extortion and robbery to falsification and drug dealing. The last two, Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor were sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2018.

In this April 29, 2015 file photo, police stand in formation as a curfew approaches in Baltimore. In the wake of the Freddie Gray case, the police union has push back against reforms designed to provide citizens with more oversight, the union also has sued to block a civilian review board from having access to police disciplinary records. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

“The type of behavior exhibited by the GTTF should never have been allowed to occur,” Commissioner Michael Harrison said in a video released by the Baltimore Police Department one day after the show’s debut. “The old ways- the wrong ways- which allowed for misconduct and unconstitutional policing to grow and fester within the department are not and will not be a part of the department moving forward.”

The intro to the series captivates viewers with images and recordings of police brutality, former Mayor Catherine Pugh and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Protest scenes flash across the screen, reenacting the response to the death of Freddie Gray so accurately that the Black Mental Health Alliance was called in to support actors and residents during filming.

The show was executive produced by George Pelecanos and David Simon, mostly known in Baltimore for his work on “The Wire.”

A Baltimore police cruiser is seen outside of a building as officers check on a call, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in Baltimore. A package of police reforms in Maryland this year prompted by the death of George Floyd includes a proposed repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, the first-in-the-nation law implemented in 1974 that has been replicated in other states. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Baltimore residents might recognize some familiar faces as they watch the series, given that Thea Washington Casting organized thousands of background actors and made a concerted effort to hire Baltimore artists and residents. 

“The most beautiful part of ‘We Own this City’ was the network’s ability to EMPLOY over 5000 locals — many of which were Black men and women with personal survival stories involving the crooked cops portrayed,” said Watkins, to his followers on Twitter. “People who never thought about working in TV are in unions now.”

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