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She’s up to 200 interviews, spending about two hours with each participant and tightening their stories to four or five paragraphs. Fifty-five stories are featured on her website, www.weareallcriminals.com, which goes live at 7 p.m. on Oct. 24.
She photographed people in their kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms, holding signs in front of their faces or obscured in other ways. Included is a pediatrician who, as a teenager, made homemade napalm and blew up a port-a-potty in the woods.
In another profile, an attorney holds up a chalkboard: “Aided & Abetted Drug Sale.”
“I can’t tell you how many background checks my name has been run through in the last year,” he said, “but I can tell you how very relieved I am knowing that each time it will come back clean.”
Reactions by participants have varied. “Some have said it’s been good to talk about it,” Baxter said. Others, “are rocked by this and not in a good way.” They contact Baxter to ask if they might get together again, “so that you can see I’m not that person anymore. They’re in deep psychic pain,” she said, “knowing that at least one person knows their story and has put it into words that make them sound like a criminal.”
Baxter hopes her project will give them comfort, and will lead to an end of the “criminal-vs.-non-criminal dichotomy,” so that others not as lucky as they may move forward, too.
“We need to give people second chances,” she said. “We need to stop perpetually punishing people.”
The public is invited to the launch of “We Are All Criminals,” at 5 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Belmore/New Skyway Lounge, 25 N. 4th St., Minneapolis. A brief program begins at 6:30 p.m.