Outside the Nappi by Nature salon on May 30th, poet J'malo Torriel, the salon's owner Sefu Uhuru, and three others say they were brutally attacked by Memphis police officers for no apparent reason. Following the attack, three officers were relieved of duty pending an internal investigation.
Ironically, the group was there to begin rehearsal for their play Why We Die, a serious look at why so many young African-American men face untimely deaths in Memphis.
Torriel (pictured at right with Jasira Montsho) is a member of the spoken-word group Brotha's Keepa. He began writing the play three years ago in response to the homicide rate for that demographic.
"It's a play about four young men who are childhood friends. They all end up putting themselves in harm's way because of social engineering," says Torriel, who also directs and acts in the play.
"It tackles parents being careful of what they do in front of their children and being economically independent, so kids don't grow up thinking they have to make money off of crime," Torriel adds.
Proceeds from the play will benefit Brotha's Keepa's Youth Prison Prevention program, their Summer Youth Theatre Camp, and their efforts to feed homeless people downtown.
"Why We Die," Friday-Saturday, September 28th-29th, 8 p.m. and Sunday, September 30th, 3 and 7:30 p.m., Southwest Tennessee Community College Theatre, 737 Union (409-2655 or 859-4051). $15 advance/$20 door.