Turning the Page: Overcoming a Violent Past to Help Pave a Better Future

Tyler John and Gabriel Brusky, “Turning the Page: Overcoming a Violent Past to Help Pave a Better Future”
Mentor: Sean Kafer, Film, Video, Animation, & New Genres
Oral Presentation Block 2

How does a person transform themselves to benefit their community after overcoming years of violence, childhood trauma, drug addiction and white supremacist affiliation? Shawn Page found purpose in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder and attempting to get clean from heroin. He fashioned himself as an advocate for systemic change and white ally for Milwaukee’s The People’s Revolution (TPR), a protest collective that advocates for underserved or underrecognized people in the community. Over the course of multiple sit-down interviews and Shawn allowing us near-unfettered access to his life, we have investigated his relationships with his community, family, and self. We have documented his path of making himself anew for the better part of a year and contrast that with his abusive past lives, stretching back decades. These past lives include his abusive childhood with an abusive father and step-father. From there, he spent his late teens and early twenties in Milwaukee’s punk rock scene, developing his early political stances – namely anti-racism and anti-fascism. A ten-year addiction to heroin derailed his journey into affiliation with a white supremacist biker gang, reversing those earlier political stances. Thus followed a period of self-reflection for Shawn as he made numerous attempts to get off heroin. During the most recent of those attempts, he was unexpectedly emotionally struck by news coverage of the George Floyd murder and decided to join TPR to adovcate for social justice causes, which is where we find him today.