Thursday, September 8, 2016

If all lives mattered, we wouldn't have to say black lives matter

Walter Scott.  Unarmed.  Shot in the back.  Killed.  

Samuel DuBose.  Unarmed.  Shot in his car.  Killed.

Errol Garner. Unarmed.  Allegedly selling loosies. Put in a chokehold.  Killed.  

In case you forgot.  If you somehow missed the video.

And that's before the black screen, the title in white, underlined in red.  The colors telling the story: Black.  White.  Blood.

Michael Brown.  Tamir Rice.  Trayvon Martin.  Freddie Gray.

The first chapter, "Unarmed," focuses on those cases as exemplars.  Here.  Watch the video.  Listen to Michael Brown's mother and Tamir Rice's father.  See the confusion.  The anguish.  

Listen to Benjamin Crump.
There's this notion that the laws and legal proceedings have to be fair.
Yeah a notion.  Lovely idea that.  But as civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom says, 
There has to be accountability.
You know how much of that there's been.

The second chapter, "Black on Black Crime," looks at efforts in the communities.  Not by the cops, not by the government, by the people.  Women of Watts, for instance.

And the good cop, the African American Deputy Police Chief in LA who wants to work with the people, and to investigate what's been ignored.  He promises.  He takes notes.  He seems sincere. And then . . . ?  

Yeah, I don't know, either.

The third chapter, "Legal System," starts with Tom Mesereau and his Free Legal Clinic.  Mostly, there's US District Judge Otis Wright, II.  He's giving a talk, explaining how the feds work, how the DEA runs their scams which is how the prisons get filled with the wrong people.
So these doofuses who thought they were gonna get rich are gonna do 15 years. 
Not because there were any drugs.  Nothing's taken off the street.  Nobody's safer.  But the feds know that they can make it work by targeting. . . .
You've accomplished nothing.  Except to demonstrate that poor people, stupid poor people, will jump at the chance of making some easy money.
It's realpolitic.  

The film's not perfect.  The second chapter lacks focus and feels too much like an interruption, a sop to those who'd see the whole as too political, too polemical.  And yeah, it oversimplifies and probably assumes too much, believes too much.  

But is political.  It is polemical.  It's intended to be.  Those are features, not flaws.

Dr. Melina Abdullah, an organizer of Black Lives Matter, serves to frame the film.  If there's a moral center, it's she.  Near the beginning she cuts to the chase.
If all lives mattered, we wouldn't have to say black lives matter. 
When Justice Isn't Just may not be perfect, but it's got real force.

WHEN JUSTICE ISN'T JUST - OFFICIAL TRAILER from First Run Features on Vimeo.

My thanks to First Run Features for providing me with a screener.

1 comment:

  1. Wrong Garner.