MINNEAPOLIS -- It's a story that rocked the Twin cities. In 2002, 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards was killed by a stray bullet while doing homework inside her Minneapolis home.
Myon Burrell was 16 at the time, was convicted in 2003 and again in 2008 for her murder but he has always maintained his innocence.
After 18 years behind bars, his sentence was commuted in 2020.
Now, nearly two years after his release, Burrell is sharing his story in an upcoming local documentary about the troubling "school to prison" pipeline.
He sat down with WCCO for his first local TV news interview since becoming a free man ahead of the documentary's premiere.
"Taking my story and taking what I went through and showing my people that, 'No I'm you, you're me, I'm your child,' the same thing that happened to me is going to happen to your child if we don't stop it right now," he said.
He said a lot has changed since he walked out of prison, but what hasn't changed is his mission to help others like him who get trapped in the pipeline.
"I have hope," he said. "I have faith. I have strong faith that things are going to change."
Burrell is now 36 years old.
He started his own foundation, Myon Speaks, about a year ago to help fight racial injustice.
The documentary he's featured in was created by recent Benilde St. Margaret High School graduate Emani Labon with the help of independent filmmaker Taylour Alexandria.
Together, they examine how Black youth are disproportionately treated and criminalized compared to their white counterparts.
The title of the documentary is "Thugs: Criminalization of Black Youth" and both said they picked that title with a purpose.
"We want to take that title, that's why we titled it our film, and debunk it and say this is not how Black youth are," said Labon. "Black youth, we are innocent. We are children, we love, we care . . . we are fun people, we are amazing and we don't deserve to have our humanity taken away from us because of a suspension or expulsion or anything like that. We deserved to be loved as much as a white peer does."
Burrell said there are many others who need help just like he did.
"Myon Burrell is not an individual," he said. "There's a whole bunch of Myon Burrells that are still in there right now and they need help. They need us out here fighting for them. They need even the acknowledgement of their oppression."
The documentary premieres July 15 at the Capri Theater in North Minneapolis. Click here for more information.
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