We are in unprecedented times but these times are expected. I have worked as a Director on MiddleMen Documentary for over five years. Though the film is not done yet, I want to introduce some things about the importance of legislation.
1. Supporting Those Doing It Already. By making this film I learned the importance of legislation. The Mothers of The Movement unite to support each other. Many of the mothers have been instrumental in getting legislation passed.
I will only attest to New York because Mrs. Carr, Mrs. Bah, Mrs. Diallo are apart of this film and have discussed some of this work with me.
It is important to support them and get behind their work.
CSPAN Link to Gwen Carr in front of congress to vote on the "Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act' of 2019
Hawa Bah also stand with Mrs. Carr and other activist to call on the repeal of 50-a.
Amadou Diallo Foundation provides scholarships and support to college students and youth.
Mrs. Diallo speaks on behalf of her son in episode 3 of the Netflix series Trial By Media
I want to point out these women are great allies. They work tirelessly even after the cameras go off.
As a single mom myself, I can only imagine the courage and will power it takes to do the work they do. Their work is essential to change. It is important to support their organizations, legislation bills, books i.e.
2. Charges. I spoke with officers both current and retired, in New York. Charges make a difference and some prosecutors over charge knowing that a higher charge will not stick. I see a lot of people upset that Derek Chauvin is not charged with 1st degree murder. To be fair there is some information that the officer and George Floyd knew each other. But unless the officer premeditated his death 1st degree would likely not stick. 3rd degree will likely stick and if the prosecutor went for it, I believe they are planning to convict.
It is important to understand how legislation and policies protect law enforcement misconduct. Additionally, laws and polices such as 'Stop and Frisk' & 'Low Level-Broken Windows Offenses' help facilitate discrimination against people of color daily. This a primary focus in MiddleMen, a discovery made during our investigation as to 'why' officers approached Eric Garner in the first place.
For current films on this subject matter I suggest Crime and Punishment and Flint Town.
3. Bills. Could it be possible to introduce a 'bill' to create a charge specific to police officers involved in police criminal activities?
This includes police violence that unjustly leads to the death of a person, other forms of corruption, and other ethical violations where criminal charges are issued.
I learned through making this film, the lack of indictments comes back to the Grand Jury. Specific charges can break though the perception that police do not do wrong. This charge is similar to a trained boxer initiating a fight. He/She will receive an aggravated assault charge because his/her hands are considered weapons. This is due to a moral code of conduct that he/she is expected to 'know better'.
Being that police hold a certain level of power and status they too should be expected to adhere to moral and ethical codes of conduct. In fact, when officers commit acts of injustice it jeopardizes the safety and effectiveness of all police officers. Additionally, less likely to call the police when in need.
This charge will not take the place of other charges but be an add on to a case. It will be much easier to separate the 'ACT' from the 'Perception" which could make the process more objective.
4. Mental Health. The psychological impact can not be overlooked. White allies must understand and be empathic, particually if you are not from an Urban community. Dealing with mental health resulting from trauma and stress are overlooked in Black and Brown communities. An interview with Josmar Trujillo during the making of MiddleMen explains an abusive relationship between police and communities of color. He pointed out that you would want to get away from your abuser not bridge the divide.
Taking time to be angry. Really allowing anger to be there until it softens and some form of inner peace comes.
Talking with others
Engaging in behavior led by vision
5. Protests. Some protests are labeled riot and some riots are really riots. Unfortunately many have protested peacefully in the past and are fed up.
Part of the issue with protesting is it is NOT the same as organizing. Though organizing and protesting can be the same, protesting with out a process leads to undirected energy. Organizing has to be part of protesting. There needs to be a beginning, middle, and end.
6. Leadership. Leaders have vision and lead people toward that vision. Resources are in place for all possible outcomes. Plans are in place for those arrested. Otherwise protesting turns to lawlessness and desperation with no real change.
This is part of the reason why I became a filmmaker. I was tired of getting angry, going home, and then not knowing what else to do after the protest.
7. My Story-Using What You Got. As a single mom I had plenty of my own struggles. Without a vision from leadership or direction, it felt fruitless. So I turned to filmmaking.
I began covering rallies for the Bring Back Our Girls, climate change, and Eric Garner. Then somehow my work grew into creating feature films. Three documentaries in total--a labor wage film, Meet Lila Green, and MiddleMen. I learned a lot about myself and society. I know that no matter what generation I happen to live in, the work I am doing is part of my purpose on this planet.
Though I wish I could rush the documentary faster, I know that one film is not going to change the world.
But I have witness and captured on camera effective unified direction. We can all contribute our skills, talent, resources, and time to help to change the world.
Everyone one of us has talent and a calling on our lives.
Do not be discouraged, that is a trick of the enemy.
Believe that God made no mistakes when you were made and that you lack nothing.
You have a purpose.
There is no such thing as a small purpose.