"When Claude Got Shot": story of redemption after two pointless crimes in Milwaukee (review)

On Monday, May 9, 2022, some PBS stations aired the Independent Lens film When Claude Got Shot, directed by Brad Lichtenstein. (PBS link).

Claude Motley is a black business owner in Charlotte, NC who had moved from Milwaukee. When he goes back for a high school reunion, he is carjacked by a 15 year old Nathan, who shoots him in the jaw during the crime.

Surgeons do a remarkable job of repairing his jaw to where it heals and is not that noticeable what had happened, but of the expense falls upon Claude as he gets into medical debt. However, two days after the original crime, Nathan gets shot by a nurse defending herself and winds up paralyzed for life.


The film tells the stories of Claude and Nathan in parallel, in complete circles and perhaps character arcs. Nathan, black, has been raised relatively well and gone to a good school but seems to have turned to crime because of peer pressure and brain immaturity.  Nathan refused to cooperate well with the Wisconsin criminal justice system and winds up in adult prison in a wheelchair.

Claude resumes like in North Carolina and studies for the bar, which he does not pass. But he has an opportunity to meet with Nathan in prison for a restorative justice session. Claude goes through a forgiveness rite, and Nathan says that by the time he had turned eighteen he did not understand why be was so stupid at fifteen. This is what Dr. Phil talks about as brain growth; many younger teen boys simply can’t see around corners.

{Recommended Milwaukee Picture} Wikpedia

Of course, we can ask how teenagers are getting their hands illegally on weapons all the time, as is happening in all big cities. We are back to the world of MFOL (David Hogg).

I have a script called 'Williamsburg and Charlotte'.  This film might have been called 'Milwaukee and Charlotte'. 

I have visited downtown Milwaukee twice, in 1992 and 2000.  The libertarian group Mythinformed sometimes has sessions in the Pabst Theater there.

The film aired at SXSW.   The production companies include 317 Productions and Black Public Media.

(Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2022 at 2 PM EDT by John W Boushka)