Thursday, September 14, 2017

Outrage after a police shooting

Directors Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis deliver a strong, clear message in Whose Streets?, a documentary about what happened in August of 2014 after Michael Brown was killed by a policeman in Ferguson, Mo. The message: The Civil Rights movement as we once knew it is dead, but that doesn't mean protest has ended. Whatever you think about Brown's killing, Whose Streets? proves informative because it focuses on the people who took to the streets in the wake of Brown’s death; i.e., it can be seen as a portrait of a deeply aggrieved community. The U.S. Justice Department eventually found that the police in Ferguson consistently had violated the rights of African Americans, so it's hardly surprising that Whose Streets? captures the outrage and frustration felt by Ferguson residents who view the post-Brown response as an armed invasion of their community. No disputing the conclusion; we all saw the armored vehicles roll in. Some of the footage comes from cell-phone images captured by protestors, which gives Whose Streets? an appropriately shaky and chaotic feel. Disturbing, if a bit repetitive and digressive, Whose Streets? reflects the mood and concerns of a much-abused population, the residents of Ferguson who weren't shot but who too long have lived with a police force that seems to have done little to serve and protect them -- and, as the movie makes clear, that treatment didn't start with Michael Brown's death.

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