“Middle Men,” is the story of communities of color and the middlemen who stand between them and the policy makers. This documentary signifies contributing elements that played a role in the unarmed deaths of five New York victims since 1994. A voice is given to the family members of these victims, former officers, agencies and educators who share their opinion about the various failings on the part of New York law enforcement and on a deeper level, failings rooted in the concept of a two tier criminal justice system where people are treated differently because of their race, wealth, or ethnicity.
Former officers explain a policing system mired in so much bureaucracy that over time, they found it difficult to exhibit any type of discretion in the communities they served. As ‘Compstat’, the number driven model became more prevalent, issues of targeting also grew in unison with police officer shootings. To understand this association, we researched the evolution of policing from post slavery to the current use of ‘Compstat’, and found whether it was because of the war on drugs or broken windows offenses, how the criminal justice system treated people of color seemed rooted in old white supremacist values of keeping ‘the people’ in line, cheap labor, and continued colonization despite whether an individual officer was actually racist. The problematic values deeply weighed in systematic policies and laws police officials are bound by and exhibited by officers of all races, nationality and genders. Policing is revealed as a mentality, a culture of ‘self’ with too much power over the public.
This excess in power has real implications and is riddled with civil rights abuses across all cultures in the United States. In the cases of the families interviewed, their nightmare did not end there. Yet through their efforts their children live on. They fight not only for the justice of their children but for future generations to come.
James C.B Gray is a community, social and civil rights activist who is currently the national action network youth huddle representative for the Harlem chapter of NYC, where he serves as a mentor for the youth of NAN alongside the NAN youth huddle founder Ashley Sharpton… James also delivers the civil rights highlight speech every Saturday morning that opens up the Saturday morning action rally broadcast which streams live at www.nationalactionnetwork.net and airs on wlib 1190am at 9am eastern standard time. James decided to become an activist shortly after he became a victim of police brutality…after a long and strenuous court battle he ultimately won a settlement against NYPD for police brutality and unlawful detention
which encouraged him to fight for those who have no voice or resources when it comes to these unjust measures. This incident also prompted James to produce a documentary about police brutality, stop and frisk, prison reform, comps tat and other issues affecting the black community. James is also very passionate about black history and has launched a campaign to teach black history through social media as he posts a little known black history fact every day that actually pertains to the date it’s published, he’s been doing this chronologically for the last 5 years and now has an online following through social media of 1.8 million viewers collectively. James was also a key player in getting the bill signed by Mayor De Blasio to rename Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx to hip hop Blvd. To pay tribute to hip hop and its legacy. James’s hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed and on February 12th 2016 James was honored at the first annual national action network welcoming committee leadership and service award ceremony…James received a city council citation from council woman Inez Dickens office for service and leadership and an award from the national action network welcoming committee for leadership and excellence.