On Thursday, May 4, 2017, guests gathered at the Muehlebach Tower at the Marriott for the Midwest Innocence Project’s annual Faces of Innocence gala.

Attendees heard from keynote speaker Anthony Ray Hinton, who served 30 years on Alabama’s death row despite evidence that he was working in a locked warehouse miles away at the time of the crime. The United States Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 2015. The emcee for the night was Ryan Ferguson. Ryan was exonerated in 2013 after spending 10 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Recently, Ryan hosted MTV’s Unlocking the Truth, which featured MIP client, Michael Politte.

Several prominent award recipients were recognized, including Alvin Brooks, who began his career as a Kansas City police officer in 1954 and helped found Kansas City’s Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, where he served as president and CEO from 1991 – 2000. President George H.W. Bush appointed Brooks to serve on the President’s National Drug Advisory Council in 1989 and named him one of America’s 1,000 Points of Light. A consistent voice for justice, Brooks most recently asked former Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to grant clemency and release MIP client Ricky Kidd. Additionally, MIP honored Mike McGraw, Michelle T. Johnson, and Jenna Welch with the Sean O’Brien Freedom Award, presented to individuals for exemplary advocacy and work on behalf of the innocent. And Robert W. Loyd was bestowed with the Justice for the Innocent Award for his long-standing and generous support for the MIP and its mission. The evening also included a VIP cocktail party, silent and “fund-a-need” auctions, and a live vocal performance.