Good Kids Bad City
Kyle Swenson
Contributed by Greta Venegas

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Chapter 14
Summary

Swenson recounts the retrials of Rickey and Wiley and the emotional scenes upon their release. Kwame was present when the judge dismissed Rickey’s case in a three-minute court hearing, and setting him free. Similarly, in another courtroom downstairs, Wiley was also released. Swenson explains that the whole courtroom was filled with television crews from newsrooms of ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN. Overpowered by emotions, the Bridgemans kept embracing, and tears of joy trickling down Kwame’s face.

A few moments later, the Bridgemans were joined by Rickey in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel. Swenson states that “the three childhood friends embraced, arms around each other’s shoulders and heads bent in a huddle, pooling four decades of grief” as a crowd of friends and lawyers clapped (Swenson, 2019, p. 224). When asked about his feelings towards the release of his brother and friend, Kwame said he was elated to have assisted in their release. He also stated that this did not imply they had won, but merely recaptured what was rightfully theirs. Swenson describes how they were also joined by other exonerees who had come to support them; they all had lunch together, an arrangement made by the Ohio Innocence Project. That evening, after all the celebrations and press interviews, the three men got into Kwame’s car and drove around the streets until late into the night, including a visit to Arthur Avenue — where they had all lived.

Analysis

In the final chapter of the book, Swenson tries to create a happy ending as he describes the emotional events that take place during the release of Rickey and Wiley. The three childhood friends are overjoyed when they finally meet after having been declared free. When Kwame states how they had not won in their cases but merely recaptured what was rightfully theirs, he was implying how their convictions were wrong, and that they were innocent all along. Swenson’s description of how the three men embrace and the use of the phrase “pooling four decades of grief” is meant to give the reader a deeper perspective about the pains they underwent serving time for such a long period, for a crime they did not commit. 

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