Sound of the Police (2023) Movie Script

[siren wails]
[irregular drumbeat]

SINGER: [vocalizing]

[indistinct conversation]

ANDRE: Amir was
a shining light.
He kept saying,
"Dad, I'ma take care of you.
"Don't worry about anything.
I'm gonna be the one to take
care of you out of everybody."
And I would say, "You know,
just live for yourself.
And once you reach your goals,
I'll be happy."
KAREN: Amir was well-rounded.
He was into his music.
He was into wanting to become
a self-entrepreneur.
He didn't want to do a 9 to 5.
He was like a philosopher.
He would tell you
about the Moon and the stars
and then tell you
about something
that was taking place
in the neighborhood.
I have to acknowledge
the brothers of George Floyd
that are present with us,
Brandon and Philonise.
If you all will stand
and please show them love
for standing here
with Amir Locke's family.
And I know there may
be others who have
lost loved ones standing here.
We thank you all for being here
'cause you're part
of a fraternity
nobody wants to be a part of.
SINGERS: Somebody's
hurting our neighbor
And it's gone on
ROD: We're here
for Amir Locke.
The question that I have is,
how many more?
Seven years from Jamar Clark,
we're 18 months
from George Floyd,
and now we stand here,
dealing with another murder
of a young Black man.
CHOIR: Far too long
- We cannot heal
until we really transform
what public safety looks like
in this city.
PROTESTER: Say what?
CROWD: Ain't no power like
the power of the people
because the power
of the people don't stop.
- Say what?
CROWD: Ain't no power
like the power of the people...
ROD: I live right
across the street
from where he was killed.
I got up on my phone,
and it was like,
"police shooting
in Minneapolis."
Then, I saw my building
in the picture.
And so I took the time
to go outside
and saw the police outside.
After I was out there
about an hour or two,
they brought his body out.
Later in the day,
I saw the bodycam footage.
And the image
that just stuck with me
was them being
very, very quiet,
as silent as possible,
putting that key in the door,
opening it,
and, like, literally snuffing
this man out as he slept.
[Lil Baby's
"The Bigger Picture"]

LIL BABY: I find it crazy,
the police will shoot you
And know that you dead,
but still tell you to freeze
Fucked up
I seen what I seen
I guess that mean
hold him down
If he say he can't breathe
There's too many mothers
just grieving
They're killing us
for no reason
- I can't FaceTime with my son,
but can the officer
still FaceTime with his?
Can that chief of police
still FaceTime with theirs?
Can Mayor Frey
still FaceTime with theirs?
All I have is memories.

JEFF: How is it, we've managed
to make buildings
that look like this,
but we can't pass laws
that stop an innocent Black man
from being executed
in his sleep?
LIL BABY: I see blue lights I
get scared and start runnin'
That shit be crazy,
they 'posed to protect
- Hands up.
LIL BABY: Throw us
in handcuffs and arrest us
While they go home at night
that shit messed up
BENJAMIN: This is happening
to Black people,
our constitutional rights
on a daily basis,
on a continuous basis,
on a systematic basis.
You have people
like Jacob Blake Junior
in Kenosha, Wisconsin,
on video,
walking away from the police,
and they shoot him
in the back, paralyzing him.
Black people like Amir Locke,
who hasn't killed anybody,
moves a certain way,
and your first notion is
to shoot first,
ask questions later.

This a systemic problem.
When you really think
about it...
- Are you gonna open the door?
[passengers screaming]
- It seems to be two forms
of policing in America:
one for white America
and another for Black America.
LIL BABY: It's bigger
than Black and white
There's a problem
with the whole way of life
Can't change overnight
JAMES: The research shows it:
Black people are policed
more aggressively.
If they are stopped
by the police,
they're more likely
to be searched, right?
They're more likely
to be verbally harassed.
OFFICER: Put your fucking hands
behind your back, motherfucker.
- [screams]
JAMES: That's Black policing.
I don't think that
there's any question
that there's two forms
of policing in this country.
OFFICER: Get on the ground!
Get on the ground!
KAREN: This has been
going on for years.
We're just now seeing it
being filmed.
This has been happening
for decades since slavery.
LIL BABY: It's bigger
than Black and white
It's a problem
with the whole way of life
It can't change overnight
But we gotta start
Might as well
gon' head start here
We done had
a hell of a year
I'ma make it count
while I'm here
God is the only man I fear
TERRY ANNE: In the South,
slave patrols
were essentially
the only form of policing
that existed early on.
They emerged about 1704
in the Carolinas,
and they were used
very specifically
to patrol racial boundaries.
[dramatic music]

- Any visible African ancestry
is used as a kind of marker
that this is a person
who can be policed,
and slave patrols have
the especial responsibility
of doing that.
- The slave patrols
were deputized
to go and recover
white men's property,
which were Black people.
Under the slave laws, slaves
are automatically guilty,
and any Black was
automatically slave status.

"It was part of my business
"to arrest all slaves
and free persons of color
"who were collected
in crowds at night
"and lock them up.
"It was also part
of my business
"to take them
before the mayor.
I did this without any warrant
and at my own discretion."
[distant dogs barking]
John Capehart, slave patrol.
ELIZABETH: Slave patrols
were responsible
for raiding slave dwellings,
identifying contraband,
like books,
breaking up slave gatherings,
and capturing Black people
who appeared not to be under
the direct control
of a slave owner
or an overseer.

- The White owner
writes out a pass.
It has the name
of the enslaved person,
their destination,
and the date.
The paddy rollers.
They keep close watch
on the poor nigger
so they have no chance
to do anything or go anywhere.
They just like
policemen, only worse,
because they never let
the nigger go anywhere
without a pass
from his masters.
- If patrol caught
an enslaved person
without a pass,
they could use any amount
of terror and violence,
really, to inflict their will.
READER: If you weren't
in your proper place
when the paddy roller come,
they lash you
till you were black and blue.
The women got 15 lashes,
and the men, 30.

- In the antebellum South,
any white person
possess legal rights over Black
people and enslaved people.
KHALIL: It was really
a society
where every white person
was responsible
for oppressing Black people.
But it wasn't just the South.
Northern colonies had slavery
up until the founding
of the nation.
But at the time
of the Constitution,
the northern colonies
essentially abolished slavery.
This creates an incentive
for Black people
to escape to the North.
[music playing]
- Southern enslavers who say,
this man ran away to New York,
this woman ran away
to Massachusetts,
they hire agents to chase
those individuals down.

- Runaway ads were
the most common form
of newspaper ad revenue
in the nation.
By 1850, the South
essentially says
that for
the past several decades,
the North has not upheld
its responsibilities.
They begin to ask
for more direct compliance
for law enforcement
to return their property,
which is Black people.

the Fugitive Slave laws
come on the books,
which empower any white person
to capture a Black person,
slave or free,
and return them
to their slave owner.

- Every single person
of apparent African descent
in any of the so-called
free states
is subject to being seized
as a runaway.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
created a regime
of surveillance
and universal suspicion
for Black people,
even free people,
even people who were born free.
City police officers helped
in this process of retrieval.
Police officers
in northern cities like Boston
were responsible, legally,
to assist the bounty hunters
in trying to recapture
individuals who had done
nothing other than try
to claim their own freedom
by running away.
TERRY ANNE: The fact that
there were bills
that would announce
that Black people need
to be careful
because the police are
looking for them
says to Black people that
the police are their enemy.
READER: Caution.
Colored people of Boston,
avoid conversing
with police officers.
They are empowered to act
as kidnappers
and slave catchers.
Therefore, if you value
your liberty,
shun them
in every possible manner.
AL SHARPTON: There was
no qualitative difference
between law enforcement
in the so-called free states
and in slave catchers
coming from the South.
It was a hand-in-glove
all at the expense
of Black freedom.
The impact of 1850 was,
it removed any hope
that there was somewhere
we could hide.
TERRY ANNE: These laws foster
a lot of distrust
between free Black communities
and police officers
and white people in general.
SALLY: Slave patrols were
the ones
who were out at night,
providing surveillance
over the enslaved community,
but during the daytime,
all whites
were effectively part
of the system of surveillance
and control
to try to protect whites
from the Blacks
in their communities.
EDWARD: It's also
about empowering
white people in general.
That's the power
to deal out life and death.
That's the power
to give people orders
that really have to be obeyed.
- Sir, I'm asking you to stop.
Please don't come close to me.
- Sir, I'm asking you
to stop recording me.
CHRISTIAN: Please don't
come close to me.
- Please take your phone off.
CHRISTIAN: Please don't
come close to me.
- Then I'm taking a picture
and calling the cops.
Please, please call the cops.
Please call the cops.
- I'm gonna tell them
there's an African American man
threatening my life.
CHRISTIAN: Please tell them
whatever you like.
- There is
an African American man.
I'm in Central Park.
He's recording me
and threatening myself
and my dog.
[dog whimpers]
I'm by...
I'm sorry.
I can't hear you clearly.
I'm being threatened
by a man into the Ramble.
Please send the cops
RECORDER: What's going on?
- It's illegal to have
a charcoal grill
in the park here.
- No, I want the cops
here right now.
- So you're sending
an officer?
'Cause now she's recording me.
- Let's call 911.
I wanna make sure that there's
nothing going on here.
- When a white person
threatens to call the police
on a Black person
during a tense situation,
that person is marshaling
this long history
of racist enforcement
and the double standard
of justice in America.
RECORDER: She called police
on a eight-year-old
little girl.
You can hide all you want.
The whole world
gonna see you, boo.
- Yeah, and, um, illegally
selling water without a permit.
- On my property.
- In order to feel
that comfortable
calling the police
on Black folks,
one has to have
a certain mindset
that the police are
there to protect them.
RECORDER: Why are you calling
the cops right now?
Because my dog was
humping your dog?
CALLER: Verballing assaulting
me right now.
verbally assaulting you.
Dogs humping each other,
she's calling the cops.
of these situations are just,
"My police--when they show up,
they're gonna make you do
"what I want you to do,
or they're gonna punish you
for not doing what I said."
- There's this mindset
that any white feels
that--"I can make
an accusation,
"and it is going to be accepted
on its face,
"and I can police it myself
because I have that right.
I have that status."
- What are you, right now,
sitting out here doing?
minding my own business.
What are you doing?
- I don't think you are
minding your own business.
What do you think I'm doing?
- I'm not really sure,
but I'll figure it out.
- I'm probably where I live.
- A lot of cases,
with Karens, it's about--
"This Black person
shouldn't be here.
Something's not right."
- If you guys have a lease,
I'd just like to see the lease.
RECORDER: No, ma'am.
PERSON: You have no business
with our personal documents.
RECORDER: For real.
PHILLIP: People imagine
there's a class of people
who's like that:
the "I would like to speak
to your manager" white woman.
Turns out, the manager
of racism is law enforcement.
- Cops are here.
PHILLIP: Because this country
is so allergic
to understanding and reckoning
with its own history,
I think it's harder
to see, oh, that one case
is not just one case.
It's part of a larger pattern.
What you doing here, man?
- Watering flowers.
OFFICER: You live here?
- No, I don't live here.
They're saying
that this vehicle
is not supposed to be here
and you're
not supposed to be here.
- Who's saying that?
OFFICER: They called it
about it.
I don't know who called.
- I'm supposed to be here.
I'm Pastor Jennings.
I live across the street.
You're Pastor Jennings?
- Yes, I'm looking out for
their house while they gone.
- The police are
a manifestation of what
society asks them to do,
and society empowers them
to police people
who are simply unwelcome.
- Go ahead and do
what you gotta do now.
- I'm going to arrest you--
- Do what you got to do.
Go on and lock me up.
- Okay.
- It's not simply a question
of the prejudices of police.
It's an issue of the prejudices
of the society
that the police function in.
[cars honking]
KEYON: The day
after Christmas,
I was staying in a hotel
'cause I was working
on a film.
My son and I
were in the hotel.
We were just hanging out.
You know, we had this plan.
We gonna go downstairs.
We gonna have
these chicken and waffles.
A usual conversation
when we're going
to get food is,
like, we talk about music
and stuff like that.
We were just excited.
- We get off the elevator
PERSON: No, he's not leaving.
Show me the proof.
Give my phone back.
- This lady just presses me,
and she was like,
"You have my phone.
Tell me that's not my phone.
PERSON: Tell me--no.
KEYON: You don't have
to explain nothing to her.
PERSON: You took the case off.
That's mine.
Literally just--
KEYON JR.: I was super
confused because the thing is,
I've never seen her in my life.
I'm the manager of the hotel.
KEYON: I don't care.
This is my son.
The power of an individual
to deputize somebody else,
that you can call
on this person
and know that that person
will take your side
is a very, very
dangerous power.
You see two Black people--
- No, I'm not letting him
walk away with my phone.
KEYON: She came
like a zombie and attacked us.
- She just comes out
of nowhere and tackles me.
- I understand how easily
those situations can escalate.
- I could be killed.
I could be arrested.
So I didn't want to do anything
to threat anybody.
Because the thing is,
being Black, like, in America,
that's already threat.
[uneasy music]

AL: As we got
into the post-Civil War era,
the concept that white America
had built the nation on,
that we were less than human--
you can't just overnight,
with an executive order
from the president,
get rid of that feeling
that they're inferior
and I'm superior.

- Once slavery ends,
the issue of how
Black people are going
to still be contained
remains important.
So in the States
that had slavery,
they begin to pass laws
and say things like
Black people can't be
wandering down the streets.
too closely to a railroad.
Speaking too loudly
in the presence
of a white woman.
Selling particular items
after dark.
JELANI: If a person was
found to be unemployed,
then they could be arrested
and sentenced to prison.
NEKIMA: It gave Southern white
sheriffs the ability
to go into Black communities
and round up and arrest
Black people
and bring them into
the criminal justice system.
[chains jangling]

AL: The police
was there to enforce
the superior position
of the white,
particularly male, class.
Clearly, what law
enforcement became
is the enforcers
of white supremacy.
[jazz music]

SINGER: Southern trees
Bear a strange fruit
KHALIL: Terror across
the South primarily consisted
of mob violence
of white citizens.
[crowd yelling]
This could take the form
of, middle of the night,
snatching someone
from their home
or from a jail cell.
SINGER: Blood on the leaves
And blood at the root
Many police departments
and sheriff's offices
did not protect
the Black community
and, in fact, participated
in lynchings.
In some cases, you see
an officer there at a lynching
or perhaps even the handcuffs
on the individual
from law enforcement.

KHALIL: Law enforcement
unlocked jail cells
when people were
awaiting trial
and there were actual
spectacle lynchings
where people were told
a time and a day
when a Black person
would be lynched,
like Jesse Washington
in Waco, Texas.
10,000 people
witnessed his lynching.
And white police officers
are always present.
They're never not on the scene.
They're never
not making a choice
as to whether to protect
the person accused of a crime
or to abet the mob.
Another man done gone
Another man done gone
from the county farm
FATH: The police uses
this term, "persons unknown."
He had a long chain on
- This evil deed was done
by "persons unknown".
He had a long chain on
He had a long chain on
KHALIL: It was no secret
as to who these people were.
But to this day, we don't
have any hard evidence
that anyone was
ever prosecuted
for the murders
that took place.
VERA HALL: I don't know
where he's gone
Lynching reinforced the idea
that the police were not going
to protect African Americans
but, in fact,
were often going to be
their executioners instead.
VERA HALL: Done gone
from the county farm
Another man done gone
KHALIL: Black people
in the South recognize
that there was no day in court
for victims of racial terror
and violence.
There was no cavalry
coming to save them.
And so Black people literally
voted with their feet.
[Sister O.M. Terrell's
"I'm Going To That City"]
I'm going to that city
To die no more
No more
I'm going to that city
to die no more
No more, no more,
no more, no more, no more
No more, no more,
no more, no more
I'm going to that city
to die no more
TERRY ANNE: Black people leave
the South
because there are
more opportunities,
especially during World War I,
opening up in northern
industry and factories.
Oh, no more!
I mean no more
TERRY ANNE: When they arrive
in the North,
many of them assume that things
would be better,
and many things were better.
I been toiling now
Crossing the swelling tide
I've been buked and scorned
Called everything but a child
of God
I'm going to that city
to die no more
KHALIL: They were hoping
for a measure of justice,
that everything they'd heard
about the promised land
would ring true, not just
in economic opportunity,
not just in the right to vote,
but also in a police force
that would serve
and protect them
just as they had
always known it
to serve and protect
the interest of white people
in the South.

Unfortunately, they were
in for a rude awakening.
[disquieting music]

When the Great Migration
begins to get going
in the early 20th century,
in northern cities,
segregated Black communities
were policed more heavily.
Arrest rates were higher.

- Black people were accused
falsely of things.
They were randomly picked up.
They were subject
to random police brutality.
The police are mainly there
to prevent Black people
from spilling out of the areas
in which they've been
into areas
where white people are.
You've got your boundaries.
In the South, we call it
slave quarters.
In the North,
we call it your ghetto.
And if you come out of there,
any law enforcement officer
is going to see you
as a suspect.
And in our times,
it's the same thing.
RECORDER: How you doing, sir?
OFFICER: Come here.
You got ID?
What seems to be the problem?
OFFICER: Do you know that guy
sitting down there
on that step?
OFFICER: Then why were
you talking to him?
I was just saying hi to him.
You don't say hi to strangers.
RECORDER: Why not?
Not in this neighborhood.
- Anything on you?
- Hold up. Hold up.
I don't consent to search.
OFFICER 1: I'm not asking
you for consent.
I'm gonna fucking--
you know,
cause I just told you to.
Don't fucking play though.
You'll be on the fucking
same block as him.
And we'll kick your ass too.
Whoop, whoop!
That's the sound
of da police
Whoop, whoop!
That's the sound
of da beast
Whoop, whoop!
That's da sound
of the police
Whoop, whoop!
That's the sound
of da beast
TERRY ANNE: Stop-and-frisk
patterns demonstrate
that police automatically see
Black people as guilty.
"Sound of Da Police"]
- Blacks make up one third
of Chicago's population,
but they accounted
for nearly 3/4 of those stops.
Overseer, overseer
Overseer, overseer,
officer, officer, officer
Yeah, officer
from overseer
You need a little clarity,
check the similarity
TERRY ANNE: In statistic
after statistic,
what we find
is that more white people
are actually carrying
drugs or contraband,
but Black people
are pulled over
at much higher rates
than their white counterparts.
REPORTER: Police stopped
over 4 million people,
according to the NYPD,
nearly 90% of them
Black or Latino.
DOLORES: Young Black
and Latino males
were being stopped 100 times
in a year,
several times in the same day,
multiple times
during the same week.
SINGER: The overseer rode
around the plantation
The officer is off,
patrollin' all the nation
- Come on, man.
Come on, man.
You just got your finger
in my ass.
- He don't got nothing.
DOLORES: Young Black men
did not feel
that they were allowed
to walk down the street
without, one, being
questioned by the police,
and what I find most offensive,
and so did they,
being touched by the police.
- Come on, man.
- Stop--
- Fingering me though, bruh.
- Stop moving.
- You fingering my ass, man.
- What you mean?
- I'm outside your pants, bro.
- Look, man, that's
still my asshole, man.
What you doing, man?
OFFICER: Y'all have a good day.
Thank y'all.
SINGER: That's the sound
of the police
Whoop, whoop!
That's a sound of da beast
- As a young police officer,
I was being deployed
into these communities,
primarily Black communities,
doing what's called
"zero tolerance policing."
OFFICER: Dave, we only got
three guys over here.
[uneasy music]
ERIC: We would often
stop individuals
for jaywalking and loitering.
And it was a reason
to be able to search them.
- Spread your legs.
ERIC: The justification
that was given to us
was that this is going
to prevent shootings
or it's going to address
higher levels of crime.
[indistinct radio chatter,
distant sirens wailing]
But not many arrests
were taking place.
And I was often stopping
the same individual
pretty routinely:
maybe not a daily,
but at least a weekly basis.
[distant sirens wailing]
Definitely, the communities
we were policing felt
there was a presumption
of guilt.
[radio chatter]
I would hear directly from
them, "This is harassment."
You begin to paint
the entire community
a certain way,
and it's a bias
that sneaks up on you
and you don't even realize it
before you're actually acting
upon it.
[radio chatter]
[sirens wailing]
- When I came into policing
over two decades ago,
we were taught to follow
a hunch.
And if the hair stands up
on the back of your neck,
that individual in that car
is probably up to something,
and you should stop
that vehicle.
Your relief is en route.
LERONNE: But hunches lead
to stopping people
who probably
shouldn't be stopped.

It leads to racial profiling.
CROWD: [chanting] N, Y, P, D,
keep your hands off me.
AL: When many of us
started engaging
in the stop
and frisk movement,
it's because
the color your skin
made you a suspect.
[shutters bang]
I'm gonna just throw
everybody up against the wall.
I would not do that
in the white community
because I see white kids
as respectable
and full humans with rights.
You have no right
that I'm bound to respect.
[dramatic music playing]
LERONNE: When I was 13,
and I was driving home
with my uncle
on Christmas Eve,
and late in the night,
on my way
to my grandfather's house
to celebrate Christmas...

We were pulled over
for what appeared to us
to be no reason.
We were released,
and we didn't get a citation,
and we really didn't know
what it is that we did wrong.
But you definitely,
in that moment, are thinking,
"This is because of
how we look."
KHALIL: Driving while Black
has been policy
in the United States
for a very long time.
Black people have been subject
to official policies
of racial profiling
to use traffic violations
as a reason
to investigate them
for further criminal activity.
ERIC: My partner and I
would go out and enforce
in a pretty small
geographic area,
traffic citations,
traffic stops.
Supervisors are giving us
very clear instructions.
Enforce everything on everybody
within certain communities.
It definitely developed
an us versus them mindset,
both for the community
and for the officers.
JAMES: When we try
to understand
racism in American policing,
it's natural to focus
on individuals,
but really, the issue
is deeper than that.
It's the situations
in which we put police.
We train them to fear
Black communities.
ERIC: In these communities
we were policing,
everybody was essentially
viewed as a threat.
We're trained: look out
for danger everywhere.
Anybody could shoot you.
JAMES: We don't have
to do a lot of training.
We're in a country
which has a history
of fearing Black people,
rooted all the way back
into slavery.
DISPATCH: Hey, don't go out
by yourself and get lost.
JAMES: I think
the fundamental question
that Black people have is,
am I presumed a full citizen,
with all of the rights
and the privileges
that that entails?
That means that I get to walk
from here to there,
I get to drive from here
to there,
without a presumption
of criminality.
[horns honking]
My question is, and we
were talking about this
with Samantha--
I asked Samantha,
well, what would she say
to somebody
to change their mind?
When I was a public defender
in Washington, D.C.,
I was really frustrated
and outraged
by the lack
of educational opportunities
for my kids who were
in the juvenile system.
- There's things I done did
in my life that I don't--
I regret, but I know
I can't change the past.
And maybe-- you know,
work on through what
I'm trying to change myself
to do now, just to the future.
JAMES: So, along
with a colleague, we decided
to start an alternative school
that would give
the very best
to young people who had been
in the juvenile system.
What was so troubling
to me was,
the police were reinforcing,
through their actions,
the message
that you will never be
a full citizen.
No matter what they're
trying to tell you
at this school about how
you can overcome your past
and you can be the best,
that's bullshit.
You were, are,
and will be a criminal.
[dial tone ringing]
So we started calling up
to the local precinct
and saying, "We wanna have
a meeting.
And the officers
came up to the school,
and the students
told their stories.
One of the officers said,
"What if the students
"wear badges,
"identifying themselves
as students of the school,
"and that way, we'll know
"that they're students
of this school
"and they're
not the people
who are selling drugs
on the corner?"
But for our students, this idea
that they should have
to wear badges
their non-criminality
was outrageous,
and they exploded
and the meeting all went
to hell.
But fundamentally,
their outrage was justified.
Two minutes.
Two minutes.
- Keep backing up.
Two at the front.
JAMES: Is everyone in?
You? You?
JAMES All right.
All of the officers
were Black, by the way.
The research is clear that
Black police officers treat
Black citizens
the same
as other police officers
treat Black citizens.
OFFICER: Bitch, put your hands
behind your back
before I break--
Stop. All right. Okay.
Knock your ass the fuck out.
DETAINEE: You guys are really
doing a lot right now, huh?
- And that points
to the fact that the issue here
is really more systemic.
And that matters more
than the complexion
of the individual officer.
So the problem is that
we've given the police
a mandate
to fear the communities
that most need their help.
- Over time, I realized
and heard
from the Black community
that they viewed us
as an occupying force
and not there
for their protection
and for their safety.
They felt we were
making them less safe.
[sirens wailing]
[disquieting music]

BENJAMIN: Any Black person
in America,
when those bubblegum lights
come on behind you
and you pull over,
you think for a second,
"Could this be my last day
on this Earth?"
Our white brothers
and sisters don't ever think
that they're gonna be killed
by the police,
the people are supposed
to protect and serve them.
But Black people,
we always have that concern
that they gonna shoot first
and ask questions later.
ANDRE: We didn't have
to worry about Amir.
We just knew that
he was responsible
and that he did
what he was supposed to.
But we prepare our children
to live to see another day.
KEYON: We have to teach
our child
that the world looks
at you different.
And as a parent, that is
such a hard thing to teach.
KEYON JR.: My parents told me
that if the police
ask me questions,
just answer them.
Just do what they say
so you can just get out
the situation.
- We start them off
by telling them to make sure
that your vehicle
is working properly,
make sure
that your tail lights work,
make sure that your--
your lights
in the front are on.
Make sure that you don't wear
a hat,
don't have a hoodie on.
Make sure that you look
straight ahead.
If you're encountered
by the police,
make sure
that you do everything
that they asked you to.
NEKIMA: I tell my son,
"If you are pulled over,
"do your best
to respond professionally
"to any questions
that are asked of you
and to ask if you can call me."
JAMES: If the police officer
tells you to do something
and he doesn't tell
anybody else in your group,
and they're white,
there'll be time to litigate
the unfairness of that.
But the time is not
right now, in this moment.
Today, in this moment,
your number one job
is to come home alive.
[dramatic music]
- One of the most fundamental
American forms--
filmic forms, cinematic forms,
is the Western.
[old Western music playing]
The idea of the wild frontier
and the lone warrior who goes
and tames it for civilization.
ANNOUNCER: Gunsmoke.
DAVID: And we don't have
a frontier anymore.
And yet we do.
ANNOUNCER: Before us,
a sprawling city at night,
stretching far
into the horizon.
- We have our urban reality.
Here, in this melting pot
of mixed emotions and fears,
a war takes place every moment
of the day and night,
a war between the criminal
and law enforcer,
a desperate struggle
to maintain peace
during the growing years.
DAVID: In the imagination
of a lot of American viewers,
the police,
the thin blue line,
are the people who are
establishing order,
locking up the correct people,
and they're trying to,
in some way,
restore and retain
[suspenseful music]

ELIZABETH: When we see
depictions of police
in popular culture,
they're portrayed as heroes...
People who are primarily
there to protect us.
JELANI: These are the programs
that make
the law enforcement person
a kind of embodiment
of virtue.
That gets transposed
onto what we think of
as policing in general.

AL: The influence
of television
puts in the psyche of America
that these guys
are so above repute
that you can't question them.
[dramatic music playing]

STEPHEN: Dragnet was
a police procedural.
FRIDAY: My partner
is Frank Smith.
The boss is Captain Powers.
My name is Friday.
- Dragnet had
the full cooperation
of the Los Angeles
Police Department.
At that time, it was
Chief William H. Parker.
And working closely
with him was Jack Webb,
the star and producer
of the show.
- We checked out the names
that you gave us, Mrs. Carson.
Everyone who knows
your little girl.
STEPHEN: When I sold
my first script to Dragnet,
I was a young sergeant.
I sold Jack Webb one show,
and I wrote 11
of his next 22 shows.
- I think it's just
a matter of time, ma'am.
We've got three teams of men
working on it with us.
STEPHEN: The police department
reviewed the scripts
so that the show portrayed
the Los Angeles
Police Department
as the chief of police
wanted it portrayed.
- And we're doing
everything we can.
- I know.
I know.
STEPHEN: Dragnet was designed
to show the police
in their best light.
As a matter of fact,
Dragnet became famous
as a recruitment tool.
["Dragnet Theme" playing]
ANNOUNCER: Young men
under 31 years of age
for exciting, respected
careers as officers
with the Los Angeles
Police Department.
STEPHEN: As a matter of fact,
Jack gave so much money
to the Academy
for every show that was made,
and he based many
of his decisions
on what he thought
the Chief of Police would want.
- Are one of you fellows
Sergeant Friday?
- He is.
- I'm Drew Heffman.
My father said you wanted
to see me.
- Sit down, son.
You didn't have to come in.
A phone call would have worked.
- It felt like reality
to a white family
sitting at home,
watching their television.
- Good morning, Joe, Bill.
- Morning, Mary.
- You're just in time
for breakfast.
- No, thanks, Mary.
STEPHEN: But it didn't feel
like reality
to a Black family.
- I just want you to know,
Sergeant Friday,
we're not gonna take
this kind of treatment!
- Out of a clear blue sky,
these two cops turn red lights
on us
and pulled us over.
STEPHEN: The idea of doing
the show like that
comes from the complaints
in the Black community
at the time.
The Chief of Police said,
"We need to answer this."
- The red marks here show
residential burglaries.
- We're gonna explain
the police perspective.
CIVILIAN: Five red dots, right
around our neighborhood.
- Imagine, five burglaries
in our neighborhood.
- You've both cleared up
a lot of things in my mind.
The officers were doing
everything right.
STEPHEN: But you didn't get
into the nitty gritty
of what the real conflicts are
between a community
that feels occupied,
rather than served,
by their police officers.
[dramatic music]
In terms of the Dragnet show,
you didn't get into situations
where police officers
used excessive force.
You never saw the officers
putting Black people
on the curb, or up
against the wall,
or shaking down their cars
without a warrant.
But at the same time
that show was being made,
that kind
of proactive policing
was going on in Los Angeles.
ELIZABETH: If you've been
arrested unjustly by police
or if you've been abused
by police,
your view of law enforcement
is going to be
very different
than what is depicted
in our popular culture
on television shows.
KHALIL: Black people were
experiencing a sense of living
in an occupied territory.
Police were
an occupying force
as if you were
a conquered people
and the conquering army set up
checkpoints and military posts
in your community.
And that any show
of resistance
to this experience
of oppression
could result in detention,
arrest, or death.
This created some
of the groundswell of tension
that would eventually lead
to acts of racial violence.
[crowd yelling in distance]
It was the most widespread,
most destructive racial
violence in American history.
[sirens wailing]
Negro leaders blamed it
on a variety
of social elements,
but most of all,
police brutality.
- Hey!
- Push him down on the ground!
REPORTER: It began with
police and rioters
on a hot Wednesday night.
But within a matter of hours,
it was completely out of hand.
STEPHEN: The Watts Riot
demonstrated that you have
a community that's left out...
REPORTER: More than 1,500
people were in the streets,
many hurling rocks
and bottles at the police.
STEPHEN: And feels
that they don't have a say
in how they freely travel
in their community.
They want protection.
They just want it
in a professional way.
Get your hands up, I said.
Drop that purse
and get your hands up.
OFFICER: Get them up.
OFFICER: Get your hands up
and go.
- It's getting tired
of being pushed around
by you white people,
that's all.
REPORTER: How pushed around?
How badly?
In what way?
OFFICER: Get him up.
PERSON: In all kind of ways.
Just stopping us on the street,
kicking in the doors,
taking down to police station
and kicking your teeth in.
- In almost every race riot
in the 60s,
of which there are a number--
'65 Watts,
'67 all over the country,
200 cities--
all of these riots
are caused, initially,
by incidents
of police brutality.
- You see uprising after
uprising after uprising.
There is unchecked
police violence
happening to Black people
and there is no mechanism
for redress.
[dramatic music playing]
The term "Red Summer"
was coined to describe
the flood of violence
that rocks
more than three dozen cities
across the United States
during the summer of 1919.
[disquieting music]

After World War I,
having sacrificed their lives
to fight for freedom
and democracy abroad,
when Black veterans returned,
they expected that
that freedom
and that democracy
would also extend
to Black people,
and instead, these veterans
and Black Americans
in general,
were met with mob violence.
FATH: Often, the police
are aiding the mob,
and they are standing by,
not doing anything,
while the mob attacks
Black homeowners,
Black people walking
down the street,
men, women, and children.
- Black people began to embrace
the politics of self-defense
and began to fight back.
You now have a whole new group
of Black people
who have been trained
in military methods
and know how to shoot guns.
- It was the fighting back
that elicited
the outrage
of the white community
and the participation
of police officers
often in disarming
Black people
from defending themselves
and, in some cases,
committed acts
of direct violence
towards Black people.
- Police in these riots
in Red Summer,
all over the country,
the white population
which means they armed them,
and they allowed them
to rampage
over Black property,
Black people.
- Deputization of white men
by law enforcement officials
underscores the extent
to which law enforcement
aided and abetted
and facilitated
the atrocities that occurred.
FATH: When this is all done,
when the houses
are burned down,
when thousands of Black people
have been arrested,
when some have been murdered,
the police pull back
and say no one is to blame
but the Black people.

TERRY ANNE: Violence
against African Americans
was not confined
to the summer of 1919.
That was just one moment
on a historical continuum
of this kind of violence that
African Americans experienced
in cities across the country.
KHALIL: If we look
at the total picture
and what happened
in these dozens of places,
white police officers
always picked a side,
and that was on the side
of the white community.
- We were at the mall.
It was pretty much
a normal day.
Then me and my friend
were, like, kind of talking
about something,
and the kid came over
and kind of started
getting in our conversation.
Then, when my friend
said something about it,
the other kid
started going crazy.
We can go outside right now.
Go right out there.
Go right out there.
- You're talking
to an eighth grader.
Go outside right now.
Go outside right now.
- You're talking
to an eighth grader.
What are you gonna do?
I say,
"Get your hands
out of my face."
I smack it away.
KID: Come outside.
Come outside.
[all exclaiming]
ONLOOKER: Oh shit!
[onlookers yelling]
ONLOOKER 1: No, no, no, no, no.
- Yo, what the fuck--
- Yo.
ONLOOKER 1: Chill.
Brian, get up, Brian.
Z'KYE: We were fighting,
like, 30 seconds.
The cops come over.
There's a male cop
and a female cop.
Male cop kind of throws
me down.
He puts my hands
behind my back
and starts cuffing me
while the other kid,
not cuffed at all,
just sitting
on the couch, watching
the whole thing happen.
ONLOOKER 1: Why are you people
so busy filming this?
Z'KYE: I was pinned
to the ground.
They were using extra force.
ONLOOKER 3: Oh, hell no.
ONLOOKER 4: He getting
ONLOOKER 1: Racially motivated.
Z'KYE: I was scared
because I didn't know
what's going to happen next.
I didn't know if it was
gonna go any further.
- Get up.
JIHAD: I think it's
a clear sign of racism.
You have a kid
who you presume is white
and a kid who clearly is Black.
These officers immediately
walked up and assessed
that the Black kid,
who was underneath
at the moment when they saw,
was a threat.
- The cops weren't there
in enough time
to analyze the situation
of who's right, who's wrong,
how it happened.
But one boy was sat down
on the couch.
The other boy was being
tackled, which is my son.
Then the cop put his hands
behind his back, cuffed him...
JIHAD: While this other kid
was sitting down on the couch,
comfortable, able to stand up
and walk away if he chose to.

- What happened with the police
made me, like, scared of them.
I don't trust them as much.
I think some of them
abuse their power.
- The other night,
I was walking our dog,
and I had a hoodie on
because it was raining outside.
And Kye was very nervous
because it was a cop car
that rolled past,
and he's like, "Dad, can you
please take your hood off?"
Because that makes him nervous.
This is not something we dealt
with prior to this event.
It hurts so much
when you see your kid fall,
scrape their knee,
elbow, you know,
because it's uncontrollable.
It's going to happen.
But in situations like these,
it shouldn't happen.
So I think the pain from that
hurts in a different way
because you know that just
by the color of your skin,
you're not safe.
PERSON: [sobbing]
REPORTER: A mother
of a 12-year-old girl
wants some answers
after this bodycam video
shows a deputy forcing
the seventh grader
to the ground
and putting her in handcuffs.
CHILD: Don't put handcuffs on.
[sobs] Please.
TERRY ANNE: Black children
are not afforded the idea
that they are
innocent by default
because they are children.
Instead, they are seen
as adults and treated as such.
PERSON: [screams]
Get off of me! No, No!
OFFICER: [yelling] I'm gonna
tell you one time!
You're gonna get tased.
Stop resisting.
Do not resist!
PERSON: [yelling]
- Put your arms
behind your back.
- Put your hands
behind your back.
- [screaming]
- [yelling] On your face!
TERRY ANNE: Black children
are perceived as adults.
And it sends a message
to that child
that the police
are their enemy and that they
cannot look to them for help.
[easy listening music]

Miss Stewart and Officer Dan.
I remember Officer Friendly
coming to my classroom
in about second grade.
He visits the school often.
All the boys
and girls like him.
D. WATKINS: You go to school,
and he comes in
with doughnuts and treats.
[whistle blowing]
I remember that he was cast
in a position to be heroic.
He was cast as somebody
that we could go to for help.
WATKINS: You are taught
that police officers
are there for you
and they want to protect you.

But you get
to the fourth grade,
and it's
a completely different story.
That's when you start
having run-ins.
That's when you're not
a little, cute kid anymore.
You become a predator
in their eyes,
and they treat you as such.
- Because of my complexion,
I'm often read
the race of the people
that I'm with.
I'm Black, but I'm very light.
So if I was with a group
of white kids
growing up in Atlanta,
I would be read white.
And I remember
the first few times
I would see the police
and I was, like,
checking in on--
how's everyone gonna react
to this situation?
And people were
goofing around, joking,
not playing it any mind.
Like, it was just irrelevant
to their existence.
But if I was with a group
of Black kids,
if a police car rolled by,
they would slow down.
They would study, like,
okay, what are they up to?
And I could feel
the anxiety level
rise among my friends.
This fear of what
is about to happen
and a kind of a defensiveness
that starts to take over
people's bodies.
WATKINS: Police officers
are not here for me.
I've never thought
of police officers
and the words "safe"
and "protection"
in the same sentences.
It's like a totally
foreign concept to me.
[funk music]

One of my earliest memories
of understanding this
is being
on the basketball court
at a time
where I twisted my ankle,
so I wasn't actually hooping.
I was just there
to judge other people and say
negative things
about the way they playing.

This one particular time,
they made all of us
lie on the ground face first.
And then they just talked shit
for, like, 20 or 30 minutes.
And if you say something back,
then you would be hit.
So police officers have
been terrible my whole life.
And I also have to pay
their salaries,
which is even worse.
Imagine paying for cable
or streaming service
and then you never
get to watch it.
Your password doesn't work
because your password
is "Black".
[crowd cheering]
PERSON: I have the pleasure
to present to you,
Dr. Martin Luther King.
[crowd cheering]
There are those who are asking
the devotees of civil rights,
when will you be satisfied?
We can never be satisfied
as long as the Negro
is a victim
of the unspeakable horrors
of police brutality.
SHARPTON: And Dr. King
addressed police brutality.
He was one of the first
that would actually articulate
that, put it into words.
No, we are not satisfied,
and we will not be satisfied
until justice rolls down
like water
and righteousness
like a mighty stream.
[crowd cheering]
Dr. King purposely planned
things like Birmingham,
where they knew that
if they marched children,
their police would sic dogs
on these kids.
The camera took the veil
off of the brutality
that people were facing.
So cameras played a vital role
because Dr. King understood
that if you can put it
in people's face to see it,
dramatize it, then it changes
public opinion
because it no longer now
is an academic debate.
I'm looking at Birmingham.
All the way to I'm looking
at you beat Rodney King.
TONY: George Holliday's wife
had bought him a video camera.
He picked up the camera
because he heard a commotion
and he went out
onto his balcony.
The first thing George Holliday
shot with his new video camera
was the Rodney King beating.
He called in to the LAPD
and tried to get some response.
"Hey, do you guys want
to see the video?"
Apparently not.
So he calls KTLA,
the station that he watches,
and we said, "Sure.
We'll take a look."
Channel Five,
Tribune broadcasting
in Los Angeles.
- Dramatic videotape
obtained by Channel 5 News
shows what appears to be
a group of LAPD officers
beating a suspect.
TONY: I said the best way
for this story to be told
is to run that tape
in real time.
And that's exactly
what we did.
That news story is the reason
the Rodney King beating tape
the Rodney King beating tape.
REPORTER: It began
as a high speed chase,
according to the
California Highway Patrol,
and ended early Sunday morning
with the motorist,
a Black male, being brutally
beaten and kicked
by Los Angeles
police officers.
AL: Here was a guy
that was not even trying
to defend himself
and was being viciously beating
by policemen,
who should have been there
to protect him
from that kind of beating.
They were the ones giving
that kind of beating.
JELANI: You saw images
that much of Black America
knew about.
We had seen
situations like this
happen in our communities.
Implicit within that was, "See?
We told you."
REPORTER: King suffered
a fractured skull
and other injuries
from the beating.
- I thought they
were gonna kill me.
That's what I thought.
After they tied me up
like that
and handcuffed me,
I thought I was gonna die.
Political repercussions
from the police brutality case
in Los Angeles
reached all the way
to the White House today.
- Sickening to see the beating
that was rendered.
And, uh, there's no way to--
there's no way in my view
to, uh--to explain that away.
It was outrageous.
- Rodney King's beating
was one of the first times
that how Blacks were treated
by police
was in everybody's living room.
America had to look at this.
- Even if we determine
that the officers were
indeed out of line,
it is an aberration.
It is not the kind of conduct
that, er, uh, we have normally
from our officers.
The police officers
who stood back
without stepping in
further reflects the way
that law enforcement
has been complacent,
historically, in violence
directed at Black people,
whether by white mobs
or by fellow police officers.
DAN RATHER: The jury
in the Los Angeles
police brutality trial
has just reached its verdicts.
FOREMAN: We, the jury,
in the above entitled action,
find the defendant,
Lawrence M. Powell,
not guilty of the crime
of assault by force
likely to produce
great bodily injury
and with a deadly weapon.
We the jury find
the defendant,
Timothy E. Wind, not guilty
of the crime of assault
by force
likely to produce
great bodily injury.
We the jury
find the defendant,
Stacey C. Koon,
not guilty of the crime of--
[crowd clamoring]
- You gotta be [bleep]!
That's what I told you.
- I knew it.
[indistinct] [bleep]
- You've got to be kidding!
DAN: The four police officers
who were videotaped
repeatedly beating
an unarmed man
were found not guilty
on all but one count.
- How, in God's name,
could a verdict come back,
all these verdicts,
of not guilty?
- The implication changed
from "We don't believe you"
to "We don't care
if this happens to you."
- Thank God it's over.
And I think it's great.
I felt that they were
gonna be found not guilty
since day one.
- So this didn't surprise you?
- No.
I knew it all along.
Campaign contributions
and law and order endorsements
make police unions
some of California's
most powerful lobbies.
And some defend
the LAPD officers
charged with beating
Rodney King.
- I think that these officers
were doing their job,
and they were doing
the job the way
they were trained
to do the job.
ELIZABETH: The acquittal
of the officers reflects
that police violence is almost
always seen as legitimate.
DAN: One of the defendants,
Sergeant Stacey Koon,
leaves the courtroom.
[crowd jeering]
- Back him up.
- Back up.
- Back him up.
DAN: Lawyers
had held their clients back,
waiting for the crowd
outside to disperse.
PERSON: I hope you rot
in hell, you cop.
PERSON: Come back here,
you fucking piece of shit.
PERSON: You racists!
You racists!
CROWD: [chanting] Justice now!
Justice now!
The great travesty of justice.
The jury gave the okay
to continue
to abuse and oppress
and suppress Black people
in this country.
There is an undercurrent
of racism,
and the system is
rotten to the core.
CROWD: [chanting] Guilty!
Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!
ELIZABETH: It was this moment
of feeling
there would be no recourse
for violence,
state-sanctioned violence
against Black people.
TERRY ANNE: Not only were
people responding
to the immediate act of what
happened to Rodney King,
they were responding
to longstanding issues
of police brutality
in that community.
[crowd yelling]
AL: It's almost like,
how much can we take?
And that was the spark.
REPORTER: Crowds soon began
throwing rocks and bottles
and setting fires.
AL: On a daily basis,
we've seen police disregard
our human dignity,
our human rights.
You got one, two, three,
four, five, six fires burning.
- And I think that's where
that explosion came from.
[somber music]

Before that happened
with a camera,
people could debate,
"That's impossible.
This is America.
Y'all are making this up."
When you got the video,
it changed the conversation.
- Get out of the car
and put the damn hands--
get up now!
TERRY ANNE: Cameras have been
absolutely revolutionary
in people's attempts to create
police reform
and say, "This is what's
been happening for decades.
Now you can see it."
ICE CUBE: If the crowd wasn't
around he would have shot me
Tried to play me out
like my name is Rodney
Fucking police
getting badder
'Cause if I had a camera,
this shit wouldn't matter
Camera's significance was felt
culturally and socially.
There's an Ice Cube song,
for example.
It describes the scene
of police violence
and ask, "Who got the camera?"
It's alluding to the fact
that cameras were
revolutionary in being able
to show the realities
of police misconduct
and brutality.
Who got the camera?
Called me a silly-ass thug
And pulled out
his billy-ass club
Tearing up my coop,
looking for the chronic
God damn, nobody
got a Panasonic?
- What we had yet to go through
was the revolution
involving smartphones,
the idea that everybody
would be carrying a camera.
DRIVER: You have no reason
to pull me out of the car.
This is assault.
OFFICER: Turn around.
Turn around.
Sit down.
[uneasy music]
- How these cops operate
in this country
has been America's dirty
secret for a long time.
REPORTER: It seems
hardly a week goes by
without a disturbing police
encounter caught on camera.
WATKINS: Camera phones
expose that secret.
FILMER: Oh, my God.
KNEELING PERSON: [screaming]
FILMER: Seriously?
FILMER: He's hitting her?
This eight-second video
which has spread
on social media
shows an NYPD officer
repeatedly punching
a young girl.
- The police narrative
before camera phones
was, oh, something bad
police comes,
solve the problem.
OFFICER: On the ground!
On the ground!
OFFICER 2: Get on the ground.
OFFICER 1: Stop resisting!
OFFICER 2: Get on the ground.
WATKINS: The police narrative
after camera phones is,
something bad happens,
the police comes,
says fuck you
to you and your grandma,
and they just keep it moving.
OFFICER: Put your hands
on the car or I'ma shoot you
in your fucking head,
you understand me?
- We got a chance
to fully see how they operate
inside these communities.
Man, I can't breathe.
Please, man.
- George Floyd, obviously,
was sort of like
the watershed moment
where no longer
were we trying to convince
people there was a problem.
They were like,
"Okay, we get it."
PHILLIP: Now we've got
television production studios
in the palm of our hands,
so yes, we're able
to see a little bit more.
And we react a little bit,
we squirm from it,
but we haven't yet seen
major structural changes.
And I think it's because,
as good as we are at reacting
to the horrors and the shock
of what we do to Black people,
we're even better
at forgetting it.
FOREMAN: Not guilty.
Not guilty.
Not guilty. Not guilty.
REPORTER: There's outrage
and demands for justice
in New York this morning
following Friday's acquittal
of four white police officers
in the shooting death
of Amadou Diallo,
an unarmed African immigrant.
- No justice!
- Enough is enough!
REPORTER: Hundreds of people
marched through Harlem
yesterday's acquittal
of three police officers
in the shooting death
of an unarmed Black man,
Sean Bell, on his wedding day.
- Imagine if you had
an institution
where it was almost impossible
to be held accountable.
That's the police.
CROWD: Hands up!
Don't shoot!
REPORTER: The grand jury
finding no probable cause
to indict officer
Darren Wilson in the death
of an unarmed teenager,
Michael Brown.
CROWD: I can't breathe!
REPORTER: It would seem to be
the justice system itself
on trial in the aftermath
of yesterday's
grand jury decision
in New York to not indict
a policeman
in the choking death of Eric
Garner during his arrest.
- The police kill 1,100 people
a year, sort of consistently.
The highest number
of convictions ever
is 11 people.
CROWD: Black lives matter!
REPORTER: Tonight,
a family outraged
after a Minnesota jury
acquitted the officer
who fatally shot
Philando Castile.
- This city killed my son.
And the murderer gets away.
- I mean, of course
you'd do anything,
'cause you will
never get in trouble.
- Justice for Freddie Gray!
REPORTER: There will be
no federal charges
against Baltimore
police officers
in the death of Freddie Gray.
- What do we want?
CROWD: Justice!
REPORTER: New questions
in the Breonna Taylor case.
The grand jury decided
not to bring murder charges
against any of the officers
involved in Taylor's death.
- If Amir don't get it!
CROWD: Shut it down!
REPORTER: Tonight,
Minnesota prosecutors
have announced
they will not file charges
a Minneapolis police officer
who fatally shot Amir Locke.
SPOKESMAN: It has been 63 days
since Amir Locke
was murdered by the
Minneapolis Police Department.
An independent investigator
determined the evidence
did not prove beyond
a reasonable doubt
that a crime had
been committed.
I have to ask, did you watch
the same video?
[key turning]
OFFICERS: Police, search
Police, search warrant!
Police, search warrant!
[overlapping yelling]
OFFICER: Hands, hands, hands!
OFFICER 2: Get on the ground!
Get on the fucking ground!
- In February of 2022,
Amir Locke was killed
by the Minneapolis police
in what I would call a botched
no-knock warrant situation.
JON COLLINS: Amir Locke is
laying on the couch,
under a blanket,
with a weapon in his hand.
OFFICER: He's got a gun!
JON: Locke was shot
by Officer Mark Hanneman
within 9 seconds.
Police said he pointed
the gun at an officer,
an action the bodycam video
doesn't show.
NEKIMA: Amir Locke was
a licensed firearm holder.
Even in that moment
where there were
several police
surrounding him,
where there were lights
flashing in his face,
Amir Locke woke up
and took a second
and looked around
and did not fire his gun.
He kept his hand
in the place
that you are supposed to
keep it
when you're assessing
a situation.
Amir Locke acted
as responsibly as he could
in light of the circumstances
that he experienced
that ultimately resulted
in him being murdered
by the Minneapolis
Police Department.
- There is no
accountability here,
and there is no justice here.
PERSON: Say his name!
CROWD: Amir Locke.
- Say his name!
CROWD: Amir Locke.
- Say his name!
CROWD: Amir Locke!
PERSON: Say his name!
CROWD: Amir Locke!
PERSON: Say his name!
CROWD: Amir Locke.
- I'm not a person who thinks
that everybody who's ever
joined law enforcement is evil
and that law enforcement
does no good or does
no good to Black communities.
I've seen the good.
So it's not that
law enforcement has never done
any good for Black people ever.
And it's not that people
who sign up
intend to just
hurt Black folks.
But you have to look at what
the pattern of behaviors are.
- Even if you are
a police officer
who goes to work, clocks in,
does everything ethical,
you do everything
you're supposed to do
and you go home, pick
your kids up from school
and take them out
for ice cream,
you are still a bad cop
because you are part
of a system that just
historically doesn't work,
especially for Black people.
[siren wails]
RACHEL: There are police
departments that admit
that their
internal affairs units
responsible for reviewing
this conduct
are largely intended to ensure
that the complaints
are resolved
in favor of their officers.
For example, the San Jose
Police Department, as of 2015,
had never sustained
a single complaint
of racial bias
against any officer.
CHRISTY: A systemic lack
of accountability
pretty quickly can turn
into a system of brutality.
OFFICER: Shots fired!
DISPATCH: 30-21,
we have shots fired.
We have one suspect down.
CHRISTY: You're repeatedly
shown that this
is how you can treat people.
[police sirens]
Clearly, what
the power structures
are telling you
is that they're okay
with how you're acting.
- Why are you doing this to me?
- Ma'am, you're under arrest.
- Law enforcement in the United
States is extremely violent.
- Don't pull it out!
PASSENGER: [screaming]
- That has been exacerbated
in recent decades
by the growing power
of police unions.
In instance after instance
after instance,
police unions have
been a roadblock
to any kind of police reform.
REPORTER: On the steps
of the Capitol today,
members of
the Fraternal Order of Police
turned out to stage a protest.
- Police unions really gained
during the Civil Rights
SPEAKER: I think that it's time
in this country
that the people face
up to it
that there is a revolution
taking place.
And that thin line between
civilization and the jungle,
which is the police,
is being shot to hell,
and something has
to be done about it.
[police cheering]
WILLIAM: People who were
really horrific injustices,
police brutality often,
were framed as the people
who are actually creating
the chaos.
SPEAKERS: The radical
who want to destroy
and burn up America
and unfortunately, want
to use you as the scapegoat
for their objectives.
CHRISTY: Black people were
asking for rights
and being given rights.
And unions were able to turn
that into an actual fear.
- We are going to spend
as much effort and energy
protecting our policemen
and our law enforcement
as they do in trying to destroy
and assassinate them.
WILLIAM: Police unions have
been able to frame the issue
in very black and white terms.
Either you're on
the side of police,
on the side of law and order,
or you're on the side
of anarchy.
It leaves very little room
for a discussion
of reforming police.
- So help me God.
PERSON: Mr. Mayor.
AL: When we had the first
Black mayor in New York,
David Dinkins, David Dinkins
wanted to institute
a civilian complaint review
board where you could just
review certain police conduct.
"Sound of Da Police"]

REPORTER: The bitter division
between Mayor Dinkins
and the police union
is widening tonight.
About 10,000 officers
rallied to protest
a plan for an independent
civilian complaint
review board.
JEFF: The reason a city
would want
a civilian review authority
is because of the long history
of officers
not holding themselves
Unions and police object
strongly to it
because they want
to police themselves.
REPORTER: The rally was
organized by the cops' union,
the Patrolmen's
Benevolent Association.
- Now I think
the mayor will get
a gut reaction from the rank
and file loud and clear.
REPORTER: Thousands of cops
stormed through
the barricades...
- Knock 'em all down!
REPORTER: And ran on top
of cars
as they charged the stairs
of City Hall.
Took over the streets
around City Hall
and then stormed the seat
of city government.
[rioters cheering]
AL: The police called
a demonstration on City Hall
that turned into a riot.
REPORTER: Police officers
on duty made no attempt
to stop their fellow cops
or to remove them.
SINGER: Your laws are
'Cause you won't even think
About lookin'
at the real criminal
REPORTER: The demonstration
turned ugly.
They rushed City Hall steps,
blocked the Brooklyn Bridge,
and some screamed
racial slurs.
DAVID DINKINS: If you call
a person
who is
of African American heritage
a nigger, what
do you think that is?
AL: These are the people
now that we're paying
to serve and protect,
calling the mayor an N-word.
SINGER: The officer has
the right to arrest
And if you fight back,
they put a hole in your chest
- There's only one thing
that police officers dislike
more than the way things are,
and that's change.
POLICE: Dink must go!
Dink must go!
RACHEL: It's about resistance
to anyone taking away
their power,
because historically,
we have just
allowed police
almost carte blanche
to do whatever they want.
POLICE: Dink must go!
Dink must go!
NEKIMA: Police
are resisting change
because they've been allowed
to do so.
Police are supposed
to be public servants.
They are hired to do a job.
They are not above the people
who hire them.
Whoop, whoop!
That's the sound
of the police
Whoop, whoop!
That's the sound
of da beast
POLICE: Dink must go!
Dink must go! Dink must go!
- Their strength comes
in a number of ways.
First, in the larger cities,
their strengths come
because they all vote.
REPORTER: Republican
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
accepted the endorsement
of 55 Florida sheriffs.
REPORTER 2: Police unions
are backing
Republican Darren Bailey
in the race for governor.
GREGG: And they raise
money for candidates.
SPEAKER: I cannot remember
when we've ever endorsed
for the Office of President
of the United States.
In the New York City PBA,
Mr. President,
you earned the endorsement,
and you've earned
this endorsement.
I'm proud to give it.
CHRISTY: Unions have been able
to extract benefits
from elected officials,
particularly in the form
of protections
for accountability,
both in terms
of ensuring
that legislation is passed
to protect police officers
and in terms of the contracts
they negotiate.
WILLIAM: Union contracts
limit investigations
into police officers who
are accused of misconduct.
Union contracts
allow police officers
to remove infractions
from their discipline records.
And also, union contracts
limit the ability
of a police department
to discharge a police officer.
[siren wailing]
As police unions have signed
contracts that insulate police
from accountability,
we actually have seen
an increase
in the incidents of abuse.
- That man is dead now.
a deadly
officer-involved shooting.
REPORTER 2: New details now
on that deadly police shooting
in San Francisco's
Bayview district.
REPORTER 3: Another deadly
police shooting.
Two people killed,
including a grandmother.
GREGG: When there is
a wrongful act,
police unions traditionally
have defended
the police officers,
almost no matter what.
REPORTER: Today, the head
of the police officers' union
said there was no chokehold
and Garner
would still be alive
if he hadn't resisted arrest.
ERIC GARNER: I can't breathe!
I can't breathe!
- The police officers
and the EMS
did what they're supposed
to do at that time.
If you're speaking,
you can breathe.
- Police federations often use
the media as a weapon.
- Mr. Garner made a choice
that day to resist arrest.
- They make victims out
to be criminals.
- Jamar Clark was not
a peaceful,
law-abiding citizen.
NEKIMA: Jamar Clark was
a young Black man
who was standing at the back
of an ambulance,
checking on a friend.
He was unarmed.
He was shot in the head
at point blank range
by Minneapolis Police.
ONLOOKER: They killed
that boy in cold blood.
Y'all know y'all killed him.
- This event should have been
a peaceful encounter.
It was the actions and choices
of Mr. Clark alone
that determined its outcome.
WILLIAM: It's very common
for police unions
to attack the victim
or the victim's families.
The implication is that
they deserve what they got.
the playbook,
to assassinate the character
of the person who is now lying
on the ground, dead.
George Floyd is
a perfect example of that.
- We saw the head
of the police federation
call George Floyd a criminal
and to try to use that
as a justification
for what those officers did.
I can't breathe, officer.
- They never once said
anything about Derek Chauvin
keeping his knee on his neck
for 9 minutes and 29 seconds
and George Floyd saying
"I can't breathe" 28 times.
They never ever put that
as part of the narrative.
CROWD: I can't breathe!
I can't breathe!
I can't breathe!
I can't breathe!
NEKIMA: But their narratives
did not stand a chance
against millions of people
taking to the streets
and demanding accountability.
REPORTER: Protests
against police brutality
quickly spread to all 50
states and around the world.
CROWD: [chanting in French]
they marched,
as they did in Rome and Tokyo,
in solidarity with what has
become a worldwide movement.
this historical response.
People saying we're
better than this, America.
Until we get justice,
none of us can breathe.
[chanting] Black lives matter!
Black lives matter!
Black lives matter!
[soft music]

- We hold two things together
always at the same time.
One, the police historically
have never served
the Black community the way
they have served
other communities.
And at the same time, a hope
that it will be different.
NEKIMA: The entire system
of policing in America
needs to be overhauled.
We need to determine,
what is the purpose of police?
- If we don't get no justice.
CROWD: Then you
don't get no peace.
DERAY: When I talk
about the police now,
one of the things that I do
is, I swap out "police"
with "person with a gun."
Do you need a person
with a gun
to get the cat out of a tree?
Do you need the person
with the gun
to find the five-year-old
that's missing?
We call a person
with the gun to do a whole lot
that we probably could use
other people for, right?
95% of what people call
the police for
is non-violent, or, like,
not a violent crime.
AL: I, in my life,
has seen situations
that are no different
than my great-grandfather.
Both of us got nervous
when we saw the police coming.
My great-grandfather
was a slave.
He had to worry
about slave catchers.
I'm not a slave, but I have
to worry about every time
a policeman pulls my car over.
We are making progress,
and we have to always remember
that it's better
to strike a match
than to curse the darkness.

When you're trying to change
of racist and bigoted policing,
it's not gonna happen

ANDRE: To ride around
the city of Minneapolis
and to see things
that remind me of my son,
it's tough not
to get choked up.
This pain is
unbearable at times.
KAREN: I think about Amir
every day, all day.
Amir should be here.
There is no reason
why my son
should be in an urn right now,
that I have to look at
every day as a reminder.
I feel like because
of the color of his skin,
he didn't have a chance.
No mother should have
to bury their child.

He's not coming back.
He's gone.

ANDRE: The most important
thing about Amir Rahkare Locke
is that he was someone's son.
He was my son.
[irregular drumbeat]