Black Lives Matter - Policing in America

One of the most striking demands from Black Lives Matter protesters in the US has been the call to “defund the police”. So, with this conversation at the forefront of people’s minds, this week we wanted to point you in the direction of five extraordinary works that help to shed light on policing in America. From powerful explorations of historic incidents to radical and community-driven alternatives to policing and criminal justice. 

Let the Fire Burn is an eye-opening and gripping documentary that recounts a shocking incident in Philadelphia. The doc goes back to 13th May 1985, when the police dropped military-grade explosives onto a house occupied by the black liberation group MOVE. The incident was the culmination of a long-time feud between the group and city officials that led to the destruction of 61 homes and the tragic deaths of eleven people. 

Ava DuVernay’s deeply moving mini-series When They See Us dramatizes the true story of the “Central Park Five”. A group of teenagers who were falsely accused of, and prosecuted for, the rape of a female jogger in Manhattan’s Central Park in 1989. The series highlights the racial profiling and coercive interrogation techniques used by the police and powerfully brings to life the shattering impact of this incident on the lives and families of the young boys. 

Do Not Resist is another eye-opening documentary that explores the increasing militarization of local police departments in the US since 9/11. The doc explores everything from tactics and training, to the acquisition of military-style equipment and weapons.

From the director of Hoop DreamsThe Interrupters examines one possible alternative to conventional policing through its look at the work of three “violence interrupters”. Here former gang members in Chicago now work in the community to help prevent the violence they once participated in.  

The Work is an observational doc that captures with astonishing intimacy, a group therapy session between inmates of California’s Folsom state prison and members of the public. In a radical alternative to conventional prison rehabilitation programs, bartenders and teaching assistants sit with former gang members and terrifying-looking men who once belonged to white power groups to work through everything from grief, guilt, absent fathers, depression, and suicidal thoughts. The result is incredibly moving, and we guarantee you this one really is like nothing else you’ll have seen before. 

All the above documentaries and dramatizations are available to stream or rent on multiple platforms including Netflix, Amazon and Kanopy, just search the title online. For more recommendations on what to watch follow @ShowroomCinema on social media. 

This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on 25 June 2020.


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