Special Honor to Former St. Louisan Nina Seavey, Creator of “My Fugitive” Podcast – St. Louis Jewish Light

“There will be a number of people who were on the show, who will be at the event and we will present them to the public, so it will be a real homecoming and a moment of reflection on a difficult period in the history of our nation, ”Seavey said.

The St. Louis Film Festival also announced that it will honor Seavey with this year’s award. Charles Guggenheim Prize Cinéma St. Louis. The award honors St. Louisians who have made significant contributions to the art of filmmaking.
Seavey’s documentaries – which include “Parables de guerre” (2015), “4th and Goal” (2010), “The Ballad of Bering Strait” (2003) and “A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America” (1998) – won numerous awards including five National Emmy nominations (one statue awarded), Erik Barnouw Award for Best Historical Film of the Year, Golden Hugo, Special Cine Jury Award, Telly Award, the Italian National Olympic Cup for Best Sports Film; and the Peter C. Rollins Award for Best Film in American Culture.

Seavey has received a number of professional accolades, including being named one of the top 50 journalism professors in the United States. Vision ”by Women in Film and Video.

my fugitive

The podcast tells the tangled story of her search for answers – fueled by hundreds of Freedom of Information requests, hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, what she discovered about FBI surveillance and informants confidential around the case – and how this trip sheds new light on the historic events of the Cold War and the controversial FBI surveillance program known as COINTELPRO until the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And how it all started when she was 12, that night in 1970.

“That night in 1970, we were living at 7347 Maryland Avenue, which is right on the line between University City and Clayton. We lived on the U. City side and I went to Jackson Park Elementary, Hanley Jr. High and U. City High School, ”Seavey said. “In the scene from Episode 3 where I describe my earliest memory of an FBI agent protecting our house when I was six, it was in our old house at 834 Warder in U. City, right next door. by Delmar. “

The story

Howard Mechanic, the 30-year-old fugitive came into Seavey’s life through his father, a Jewish immigrant born in Cherbourg, France. His parents had escaped the pogroms in Ukraine and were able to travel to France. In 1927, they were finally able to get passage on the Cunard Line that brought refugees to the United States. The rest of the family remained in Russia / Ukraine and did not survive the Holocaust.

When they arrived in the United States, they went straight to St. Louis where the Gilchenok family, now Gilden, opened a kosher grocery store on Debaliviere. The family lived above the store and lived in great poverty in what was then the Jewish ghetto of St. Louis. Louis Gilden attended Soldan High School and then, after World War II, went to law school on the GI Bill.

“All this to say that while many Jews sought wealth and tried to forget their refugee / poverty situation, my father always felt like a stranger, the ‘other’ and embraced those he considered. like him, ”recalls Seavey. . “He identified with the plight of the people who were struggling and wanted to be a part of that fight because it was also his.”

Howard Mechanic

With his stellar investigative skills, coupled with his personal connection to this fascinating story, Seavey makes my fugitive a powerful mix of history, politics and government secrets. She weaves a story with such notable characters as Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, James Earl Ray and finally Howard Mechanic.

In my fugitive, Seavey describes Mechanic as a young Jewish student at Washington University in Cleveland, Ohio, who attended a protest rally the night the Air Force building was destroyed. He has been identified by the police and the FBI as being responsible. He was arrested and charged under an obscure provision in the Civil Rights Act that participation in a riot was grounds for arrest and imprisonment.

“So why Howard Mechanic?” Seavey said. “I think he became a symbol of everything that had gone wrong. It certainly was for my father and then for me. I think people think the ’70s were all about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and while that is true, it’s easy to forget the extraordinary turmoil of the time – the assassinations, the political bombings. I mention in the podcast that there were 3,000 political attacks in 1970 – can you imagine that today? “

The mechanic was convicted and sentenced to five years in federal prison. But, instead of surrendering himself to the authorities, he fled, thus becoming a fugitive for more than 30 years.

The Saint-Louis connection

Howard Mechanic is the protagonist of Seavey, and she tells her story so gracefully as she presents her long list of antagonists, which includes the city of St. Louis itself.

In my fugitive, you’ll find connections about Saint-Louis as a melting pot in Dr King’s legacy that no one has shed light on. These aren’t really new revelations, but they’ve been buried for so long that they feel brand new. The Rays were a family from St. Louis, and their bar, the Grapevine Tavern on Arsenal Street, became a hotbed for the ultra-right-wing machinations of the John Birch Society, the White Citizen’s Council, and the George Wallace for President Campaign. Add to that the criminal element that the Grapevine Tavern was a legend about (the name of the bar comes from ‘Grapevine’ Prison which is how inmates communicate) and you have a circumstance full of criminal and political intrigue.

“The disturbing part for me to bring these connections of St. Louis and the Ray family to the investigation into the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, would be the perception that this is sort of a theory. of the ‘crazy tin hat’ plot, ”Seavey said. “So my team and I were careful not to draw any conclusions ourselves, but to cite documents and allow the Congressional investigators who discovered these connections (who are thankfully still alive) to reveal this themselves.” equipment. Recently deceased Vice President Walter Mondale is on that list of notable congressional investigators, but not before providing me with one of his last, and most insightful, talks.

Listen to my fugitive

That’s about all we can tell you. We don’t want to give away too much. You can listen to all 8 episodes here. My fugitive on Audacy.

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