successful return to Baltimore for David Simon and George Pelecanos


Twenty years separate the first season of TheWire and the dissemination of We Own This City, the highly anticipated miniseries that marks the return of David Simon and George Pelecanos to Baltimore (Maryland). And if, by their own admission, ” Nothing has changed ” in the city since that time, the public should book at We Own This City a warm welcome, worthy of the memory left by TheWirea series with modest audiences but whose writing and tone will have marked a whole generation of screenwriters.

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We Own This City aims to add a chapter to the five seasons of TheWire while formulating the conclusion. The series produced and broadcast from 2002 to 2009 by HBO (Buggedin French), particularly in its first season, superbly staged the war on drugs on the scale of a few “corners” in Baltimore, adopting a rigorously symmetrical point of view – at the time, it was still rare – between the police and the inhabitants of the poor neighborhoods they rake.

Two decades later, We Own This Cityby placing the camera within the very heart of the police institution, assesses the political and social cost of this war in the light of a scandal that shook a special force set up just after the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man died in Baltimore during his arrest in 2015.

Documentary bias

Faithful to their documentary bias, Simon and Pelecanos rely on the book by journalist Justin Fenton (from, like David Simon, the Baltimore Sun), which gives its name to the series – The city belongs to us (Sonatine Editions, 455 pages, 22 euros) – to describe the operation of the Gun Trace Task Force, an “elite” unit set up to contain the explosion of crime in the city, already high, after the death of Freddie Gray and the ensuing riots.

Composed of experienced agents, difficult to control but who are not afraid of anything and above all make numbers, the brigade enjoys a large autonomy until an investigation in 2017 reveals serious slippages – theft, scam, trafficking drugs, racketeering… – and that eight of its members (both white and black) are sentenced to prison terms, most of them exemplary.

Symptom of a city sick of its police, the case reveals serious fractures within the institution itself, between uniformed police and officers in street clothes, between field cops and office paper pushers. And the poverty of a public policy reduced to seizures of arms and drugs.

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