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Laramie Movie Scope:
12 O'Clock Boys

Documentary of illegal dirt-bike riding in Baltimore

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2014) In the inner city of Baltimore, from the spring of 2010 until the winter of 2013, documentary director Lofty Nathan filmed an African-American boy nicknamed Pug, beginning at the age of twelve, obsessed with becoming a member of a dirt-bike gang. Illegally riding dirt bikes and four-wheelers through the streets, performing stunts while skillfully raising the machine up on its back wheel or wheels, they're regarded as renegades. "This is what we do," says one biker: "It's our release."

The police in patrol cars have a no-chase policy, though some bikers have been injured and killed in what they've charged have been intentional chases. Pedestrians have been struck by bikers as well. "I don't care if one of the gets hurt," says a male voice on the radio: "I don't care if one of them dies."

For apprehension, the cops use helicopters to watch, wait, and track the bikers. The bikers use vans and cut routes to foil the authorities.

A group of young black men, calling themselves the 12 O'Clock Boyz - Wheelie Wayne, Superman, and Weedy - initiated the craze, demonstrating control and balance, by recording their antics and displaying the videoclips on YouTube.

Living in a dangerous neighborhood - "You can die in the blink of an eye" - Pug's single mother, Coco Brown, formerly an exotic dancer, dislikes her son's obsession and disobedience, especially after his older brother Tibba died: "He just wild." Some of the bikers regard the small adolescent as a "real cool dude."

In the summer of 2012, Pug lets another kid ride his Honda dirt bike; after showing off by popping wheelies, the kid rides off. Lofty asks Pug about his scheme for stealing back the bike.

"A Baltimore teen known for his role in a documentary called '12 O'Clock Boys' said a run-in with the law as he was riding his dirt bike -- an illegal activity in the city -- left him injured," WBAL-TV 11 News reported on April 28, 2014: "Taekwon Ford, 16, said he was knocked off his dirt bike by a police officer and then shocked by a Taser over the weekend. Ford, whose friends call him Pug, said the incident left him with bruises, and now he has to walk with crutches."

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Copyright © 2015 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

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