“For Michael Brown Jr.”
On August 9th, 2014 – exactly 3 years ago today– an 18-year-old, unarmed black student named Mike Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri. Just a day before, the northern suburb of St. Louis was virtually unknown to the rest of the world, but that would soon change in the most drastic of ways. Ferguson became the birthplace of the Black Lives Matter movement and garnered national attention, but the people’s call to action has continued to be ignored. The documentary Whose Streets? is a look racial tension in Ferguson post-Mike Brown’s death, and how residents refuse to back down until they feel they’ve received “liberty and justice for all.”
Contributing to the emotional scope of the documentary, Whose Streets? relies heavily on user submitted videos to capture the unfiltered chaos and confusion during those tumultuous days and nights. Not only does this force the audience into a reality check, but it also serves to empower the people with the cameras. Everyone is a filmmaker, documenting events from their unique perspectives. The social activism seen here is what they are hoping will change the world.
Seeing a father hold up a sign reading, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!” will never be an easy thing to digest.
Last year, the documentary “Do Not Resist” highlighted the growing militarization of the police force, specifically in Ferguson, and the message is again echoed in Whose Streets?. Calling in the National Guard was a decision reached by the local (not federal, as then President Obama makes clear) jurisdiction, and was meant to intimidate protesters into quietly packing up and going home. But the opposite happened, and instead, the violence, vandalism, and looting became worse, destroying an already broken city and pushing lawmakers, police, and residents even further from a civilized conversation and potential agreement.
Seeing a father hold up a sign reading, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!” will never be an easy thing to digest. These films will continue to anger those who feel discriminated against and haunt those who sympathize with the victimized. Whether you are black, white, or anything in between, Whose Streets? is a captivating and culturally crucial watch.
90 minutes. ‘Whose Streets’ is rated R. In theaters this Friday at Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills.