A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Interviews with community leaders and activists who discuss the importance of organizing, protesting, and finding solutions to injustice and the continued disproportionate killings of African Americans by police officers in America.
Positive Role Models
Interviews and discussion with activists, organizers, former and current police officers and police chiefs, and community leaders who are working to find ways to confront systemic racism and put an end to the epidemic of the disproportionate killings of African Americans by police officers in America.
This documentary presents interviews with activists and community leaders of color, as well as White leaders and officials trying to address systemic racism in America. The documentary also gives a fair amount of time to police officers who conduct themselves at a higher standard than those who rely on excessive violent force when not necessary, and discusses how lack of training, long hours, and a culture of racism going back for decades contributes to the tensions between police officers and communities of color.
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Violence & Scariness
Disturbing camera and dashcam footage of the deaths of George Floyd, Philando Castile, Laquan McDonald, and numerous other instances of killings of African Americans by police officers. Footage of a vehicle hitting a protestor in a crowd of people. Archival footage of riots in the 1960s, Miami in 1980, and Los Angeles in 1992. An African American minister talks about being physically and sexually assaulted by police officers.
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"F--k" used in several instances of dashcam or camera phone videos. "Bulls--t" in song at end of documentary. "Hell."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Use of Force: The Policing of Black America is a 2022 documentary that explores the strained relationships between communities of color and law enforcement. It traces the history of policing in America, the protests in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in 2020, and concrete steps that could be taken to improve relations between communities of color and law enforcement, and to find ways to prevent the kinds of killings that took the lives of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and so many other people of color killed under questionable circumstances by the police. The documentary relies heavily on dashcam and camera phone footage, and this footage is disturbing even if you've seen it before -- the footage of George Floyd being suffocated, Philando Castile shot in his car during a routine traffic stop, the shooting of Laquan Macdonald in Chicago. There's an entire sequence of videos showing different instances of police brutality and violence, including gunshots resulting in death, kicking and beating, tasers, and riot footage between police and protestors. For its clear anger over these killings, the documentary does spend considerable time exploring the issues police departments face from within, and how long hours, a lack of training, and a culture of racism going back for generations have gotten us to where we are now, and how good cops, chiefs, community leaders, and politicians are trying to take the steps necessary to find real solutions. Positive messages on the importance and necessity of activism, organizing, and standing up for what you believe in. Some profanity in the dashcam and camera phone footage, including "f--k." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
For families looking to initiate or continue having necessary and difficult conversations about race and race relations, this searing documentary is essential viewing. Watching Use of Force: The Policing of Black America can be at times a difficult experience, as dashcam and camera phone footage shows instances of the murders of African Americans in real time. George Floyd, Philando Castile, Laquan Macdonald -- to see these killings and so many others placed within historical context reveals the depth of the problem. For viewers willing to address, confront, and reckon with where we've been, where we are, and where we hope to be going, this documentary and its content simply cannot be ignored or denied.
It's not all doom and gloom, as the documentary shows elected officials, community leaders, activists, police chiefs, and police officers working toward real and practical solutions. The documentary also makes the effort to understand the challenges police departments and police officers face with the demands of the job and a firmly entrenched culture and history of racist and prejudicial behavior that goes back decades, if not centuries. Use of Force: The Policing of Black America is likely to provoke controversy, particularly from those not interested in addressing issues of policing in communities of color. For individuals and families interested in digging deeper and asking themselves, their communities, and country the difficult questions required to begin change for the better, this documentary continues the conversation so many just started having in 2020.
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