C.O.P.S -Crimes Of Police- A PNN ReVieWs4thaReVoLuTion Movie Review
“All of the victims (of Po’Lice murder) visited me in my dreams when I was making this movie,” Ansar El Muhammad "Zar The Dip" spoke humbly to the huge audience of the Black Repertory Theatre after the showing of his first and power-FUL documentary film Crimes of Police at the Oakland Film Festival on Saturday, April 6th.
“Between 2010 and 2012, four unarmed black males were killed by police in San Joaquin County in Northern California. Additionally, within this same time period several unarmed black males were also killed by police in the Northern California cities of Oakland and San Francisco.” From the Oakland Intl Film Festival Synopsis of Crimes of Police documentary
“I started doing the movie because I knew two of the victims, Luther Brown and James Cook but then when I began creating the movie they all began to visit me in both dreams and nightmares,” Zar the Dip told me after the screening. When I heard Zar speak on this I remembered the teaching of my strong Black-Indian mama Dee who always taught me to listen carefully when our ancestors visited us in our dreams. “They have messages for you, they are showing you the way,” she would say, following her Yoruba/Taino spiritual traditions innately as we struggled together through so much poverty and police harassment throughout my childhood.
Through a series of interviews with family members of victims, excerpts of protests and press conferences and then conversations with John Burris’ Diante Pointer and Black Panther Elaine Brown, a story of an occupying army who call themselves the police, killing our fathers, our sons, our brothers and our neighbors, is told in this hard documentary.
“I’m crying so much, my eyes feel tired, Dione Smith, mother of James Rivera, one of several men of color murdered by police in Stockton, California spoke haltingly in one of many clips that featured the families left to tell the tragic stories of so many young Black and Brown men including Oscar Grant, Alan Blueford Jr., James Rivera, Kenneth Harding Jr, Ernesto Duenez Jr., James Cook, and Amadou Diallo to name a few.
This first movie by Ansar El Muhammad "Zar The Dip" rolled through stories of broken lives, broken families and eternally broken In-Justice system, which poor peoples and peoples of color must survive under whether we like it or not. While I watched the stories of so many survivors, I was catapulted back in time to when me and my mama were endlessly Po’Lice harassed by Oakland and Berkeley PD for he crime of living in our car, for driving while poor and for being poor and homeless in Amerikkka. But most of all this movie brought me back to the resistance of us families of color to fight the racist, classist occupations of our communities
I spoke up at the Q&A at the end of the movie on the ways that POOR Magazine as a poor peoples-led, indigenous-peoples-led movement has adopted a No Police Calls rule, how this is very hard rule to keep when so many of us poverty skolaz are also in struggle with the poisons so easily accessible in our communities, and our own deep pain and trauma which we sadly and often perpetrate on each other, but that we do through following the ways of our ancestors- through a process we call Family council, which holds each of us accountable and works out consequences through healing practices and personal accountability. Most of all we do it because no matter what we know as poor peoples of color we can’t invite the police into our lives to perpetrate more harm in the name of “security”.
“We have to be strong, as a family, to fight, to keep the community remembering my son, (Ernesto Duenez Jr.), Rosemary Duenez spoke while sitting in unity with her power-FUL family in resistance to the lies, smear tactics and harassment employed against Ernesto Duenez which now extend to Ernesto’s brother who received a restraining order for peacefully protesting the racist police in Manteca, where Ernesto was murdered.
This power-FUL movie’s dedication to the truths of Black and Brown young men and their families, who this amerikkkan system would rather vilify, criminalize and silence reminded me of the many teachings of Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, who stressed the importance of writing our own stories, to control our own histories. So the colonizer could not keep telling their lies, un-disputed.
Crimes Of Police does just that, allows us to tell our own stories, in our own voices, to resist the ongoing lies that corporate media and corporate police always disseminates about our fallen sons, which the solemn narration by Zar the Dip reminded us is the standard procedure followed by police departments to discredit the humans they murder, beautiful, peaceful fathers like Mario Romero of Vallejo, community leaders like James Cook and youth skolaz like Alan Blueford Jr..
Crimes of Police serves as a filmic tribute to the truth-telling and fierce activating of so many of our family members like Cyndi Mitchell, (sister of Mario Romero, Mesha Irizarry, mama of Idriss Stelley, and founder of the Idriss Stelly Foundation, Denika Chatman, mama of Kenneth Harding Jr., Lori Davis, mama of Rahiem Brown Jr, Uncle Bobby, uncle of Oscar Grant, and so many more mamaz, brothers, fathers, uncles, aunties, sisters, sons and daughters who can’t stop, wont stop until there is some real justice and no more just-US.
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