Street Fight chronicles the bare-knuckles race for Mayor of Newark, N.J. between Cory Booker, a 32-year-old Yale Law School graduate, and Sharpe James, the four-term incumbent and undisputed champion of New Jersey politics.
Fought in Newark's neighbourhoods and housing projects, the battle pits Booker against an a political machine that will use any means necessary to crush its opponents: city workers who do not support the mayor are demoted; "disloyal" businesses are targeted; a campaigner is detained and accused of terrorism; and disks of voter personal data are stolen during the night.Even the filmmaker is dragged into the fray, and by election day, the climate has become so heated that the national government is forced to send in observers to watch for election fraud and even violence and intimidation.
The film sheds light on important questions about democracy, power as well as race. Both Booker and James are African-American Democrats, but when the mayor accuses Booker of not being "really black" it forces voters to examine both how we define race and what is education about.
Street Fight is set in the underbelly of democracy where elections are not won with spin-doctors, or media consultants, let alone policies, are won on the streets.