The Cooler Bandits is a documentary about four African-American teenagers who committed a series of armed robberies in Akron, Ohio in the early 1990s.
I first got involved with these kids back in the eighties, when I became a Big Brother to an 11-year-old boy in Akron's Northside. We spent a lot of time hanging out with other kids in the neighborhood, doing what most kids do -- swimming, fishing, ballgames, riding toboggans in the snow. In 1991, four of the kids did what most don’t do: they robbed a number of area restaurants, herding the employees into coolers and forcing the manager to open the safe.
Nobody was harmed during the robberies, but the young men were given harsh prison sentences of up to 500 years. Now nearly two decades later, one has received parole and is working to support a new family, while the others have spent their entire adult lives incarcerated. Each has a different perspective on life as the four of them struggle to make sense of a world they’ve known only on the harshest terms.
They've got a lot to say, and I want to help them to be heard.
We're committed to making it happen, and we're finding a way to do it on a shoestring budget. We've been flying on borrowed frequent flier miles, sleeping on couches, eating fried baloney sandwiches -- and we're getting incredible footage. Now we need to hire an editor to help us put it all together.
You can help make that happen. Please consider contributing. We've got some great rewards, but the greatest is the difference you can make to this project.
- (60 days)