Entertainment Movies Television West Edition

Blue-on-black injustice reflected in art

Increased public awareness of police and vigilante violence and legal bias against black Americans has triggered a spate of films, documentaries, TV shows, plays and other works reflecting the injustice. Here are a few examples:

Feature Films

“Fruitvale Station” (2013): Train passenger Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) is handcuffed at a train platform and shot in the back by a BART officer.

“Jimi: All Is by My Side” (2013): While living in London, guitarist Jimi Hendrix (André Benjamin) is harassed by British Bobbies for dating a white woman.

“Selma” (2014): White state troopers brutally beat and bludgeon peaceful civil rights activists marching for voting rights in Alabama.

“Straight Outta Compton” (2015): Police officers beat, harass and/or abuse black residents, including members of the rap group N.W.A.

“Detroit” (2017): Rogue police officers brutally beat three black teenagers and leave them to die in a urban motel during the 1967 riots in Detroit.

“The Hate U Give” (2018): An unarmed high school student guilty only of “driving while black” is gunned down by a white police officer after a traffic stop.

“Widows” (2018): A Chicago policeman guns down a black teenager following a routine traffic violation.

“If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018): Aspiring artist Fonny (Stephan James) is mistreated by an NYPD officer, wrongfully charging him with rape.

“Brian Banks” (2019): A star high school football player is wrongfully convicted of rape and spends over 5 years in prison before his accuser admits she made up the whole story.

“American Skin” (2019):  Nate Parker directs and stars as a Marine veteran whose son is killed by a police officer cleared of any wrongdoing without even a trial.

Documentaries

“The Central Park Five” (2012): Five Harlem teenagers are wrongfully convicted of brutally raping a white jogger in NYC’s Central Park.

“Let the Fire Burn” (2013): Philadelphia police bomb the home of a black liberation group called MOVE, incinerating 11 adults and children and destroying 60 homes.

“The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” (2015): FBI and police officials across the nation abuse, harass and ultimately gun down Black Panther members in multiple U.S. cities.

“Do Not Resist” (2016): Documents the over-militarization of Ferguson, Missouri’s police department after Michael Brown’s 2014 shooting.

“3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets” (2015): Chronicles a dispute over loud music at a gas station that triggered the shooting death of teenager Jordan Davis by a white man.

“Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland” (2018): Documents the mysterious death of Sandra Bland while in police custody following a traffic stop.

“16 Shots” (2019): Exposes the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald and Chicago authorities’ attempt to cover-up video footage.

“Emanuel” (2019): A haunting look at a white nationalist 2015 killing of nine Black parishioners at a Charleston church, including South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney.


Television

“Scandal” (2015): “The Lawn Chair” episode shows Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) defusing a tense standoff, following police shooting of a youth that causes his gun-wielding father (Courtney B. Vance) to take to Washington, D.C.’s streets.

“American Crime” (2015-17): ABC series took a candid look at African Americans ensnared in a frequently unjust legal system.

“Guerrilla” (2017): Showcases how black power militants battled oppressive police officers in 1970s Britain.

“When They See Us” (2019): Dramatizes the cases of five New York teenagers wrongfully convicted of brutally raping a white jogger in Central Park.

“Snowfall” (2017-2019): CIA officials are implicated in the introduction of crack cocaine into south L.A. (ultimately spawning a drug epidemic and leading to widespread police abuses in black communities).

Theater

“The Scottsboro Boys” (2010-2013): Play dramatized the case of nine black teenagers falsely convicted of raping two white women in 1931.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” (2018): Depression-era story about a black worker who’s falsely accused – and later convicted – of raping a white woman.

“American Saga – Gunshot Medley: Part 1” (2018-19): A mystical reflection of the murder of African Americans throughout the years, including the “Charleston 9, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner [and] so many people whose names we don’t know and will probably never know,” playwright Dionna Michelle Daniel said.

“Blues for Mister Charlie” (2019): Play inspired by historical abuses of blacks by Southern vigilantes, including the murders of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers and the Klan’s 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four girls.

“Scraps” (2019): Play offers an in-depth look at how loved ones struggle to cope after a white NYPD police officer guns down a high school football star in Brooklyn.

“The Fannie Lou Hamer Story” (2019): Play focuses on a sharecropper-turned civil right icon, who was viciously beaten and molested in a Mississippi jail.

Opera

“The Central Park Five” (2019): Opera commemorates the 30th anniversary of the wrongful arrests, convictions and prison sentences of black and brown Harlem teenagers for the savage rape of a white jogger.