Lakewood, New Jersey, United States0
When an African-American teen is accused of vehicular assault against a Hasidic boy, his mother seeks to clear his name before their community takes sides and descends into chaos.
Lakewood, NJ. Spring, 1997. Denise Johnson, a middle-aged black single mother, is one of the last holdouts in a neighborhood undergoing rapid gentrification, with a large influx of Orthodox Jews. She’s content with her new neighbors, as long as nothing harms her teaching or her seventeen-year-old son Isaac.
Denise’s world changes when Isaac is arrested for hitting a Hasidic teenager with his car, rendering the victim comatose. Isaac denies wrongdoing, and Denise hires an attorney, prepared to defend her son.
Unbeknownst to Denise, her sister-in-law Beretta persuades the local paper to report on Isaac’s being racially profiled. The story creates a firestorm in the town, pitting what remains of the black community against the Hasidic community, and a movement forms. Despite the animosity, she reaches out to the family of the victim: The Levovitzes
However, Beretta thwarts any progress when she condemns the Levovitzes for believing Isaac is guilty and accuses Denise of harboring sympathy for them. With her family’s close bonds fraying, pressure mounts as CNN contacts her for an interview with Isaac. Denise refuses consent, but the damage is done: The Levovitzes find out and believe her good will is a ruse. They vow to contact the media with their side of the story.
Mrs. Levovitz visits Denise in secret, and together they discuss moving forward in spite of the tension. When Denise advises Isaac on how to handle his new public persona, he lets it slip that he did hit the boy—accidentally. Against his pleas, Denise vows to tell the Levovitzes the truth, sacrificing her son before the falsehood destroys his credibility and his future.
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