*Award-winning, journalist-turned-director, Camilla Hall’s documentary debut, “CopWatch” will be released this weekend in limited theatrical screenings in select cities across the country, and on Amazon and iTunes later this month.
The film premiered in competition at Tribecca Film Festival earlier this year. The documentary takes you on a bittersweet rollercoaster ride and provides an intimate look into the lives of three WeCopWatch members.
Hall’s “Copwatch” goes behind the lens to profile the personal account and brotherhood of the WeCopwatch members, who have filmed the fatal police arrest of Eric Garner (Staten Island, NY), Michael Brown (Ferguson, MO), and Freddie Gray (Baltimore, MD).
The videos of Black men being brutalized by police officers are constantly broadcast around the world and their deadly arrests have been forever etched in our consciousness, revealing the truth about what really happens when black men and women are approached by law enforcement worldwide. Because of the videos, the perception of law enforcement has changed for many, and consequently, sparked outrage and national protest against excessive force.
WeCopwatch’s mission is to film police brutality as a non-violent form of protest and deterrent to police brutality. They also watch the police, educate and empower communities. Through their “Copwatch College,” and appearances nationwide, they educate civilians about the “7 Rules to Know When Recording Police,” posted also on their website, wecopwatch.org http://wecopwatch.org/7-rules-when-recording-police. They’ve even expanded their activism to “Standing Rock” helping The Natives who are facing volatile attacks to form Copwatch groups as a peaceful defense http://wecopwatch.org/copwatch-cameras-for-standing-rock.
“I want them to understand the value of looking out for another person. At a basic level, if you see someone during a police interaction who could be vulnerable take out your camera phone and film them. More generally, cop watching simply speaks to the idea of taking care of the people around you and protecting your neighborhood,” says Hall, in a recent interview.
From Michael Brown’s, “hands up” death in Ferguson, MO., to Eric Garner dying after he was pinned down by cops, with his face pressed to the pavement and put in an illegal chokehold by police and gasping for his final words, “I Can’t Breathe, I Can’t Breathe,” to Freddie Gray’s blaring screams, the WeCopwatch members discuss what they encountered while videotaping these men. Ramsey Orta captured the entire Eric Garner ordeal and is the only person from the scene of the fatal Staten Island arrest to go to jail. In fact, Orta is currently incarcerated. Fast forward to Baltimore, Kevin Moore, awoke to noise outside his home and the piercing screams of his friend and neighbor, Freddie Gray. Disconcerted, he immediately located his camera, ran outside, filming as police dragged the injured young man into the back of a paddy wagon. Gray died and Moore’s video, like those before his, aired globally on major news outlets and spread virally through social media. Similar to Orta, Moore became an immediate target and was arrested shortly after he filmed the video while attending a protest.
Committed to cop watching, WeCopwatch co-founder, Jacob Crawford, spent 16 years documenting police activity and he became even more committed after he heard about the news of Brown’s shooting death. He immediately traveled to Ferguson, MO., after the death of Brown for the protests there and befriended David Whitt, a young father, who lived in the complex where Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police. Deeply disturbed by the situation and compelled to take action, Whitt immediately started filming the police encounters with protesters after Brown‘s “Hands Up” shooting and joined Crawford to co-found WeCopwatch.
The documentary is not anti-police; it is a film of anti-police brutality that sheds light on what goes on behind the lens after the killings. Hall’s film is different than similar films released because it focuses on the people behind the lens and how their life have been affected, opposed to focusing on an act of police brutality.
“It is not about what happened in front of the cameras. It’s about those who stood behind the lens,” says Hall. “It’s about a sense of brotherhood that has developed through the shared trauma of standing up to police brutality.” At one point in the documentary Orta and Moore, discuss the emotional burden of copwatching and the moment that would forever change their lives. No doubt, it was hard reliving the various tragedies and listening to the men tell their stories.
In a recent interview with David Whitt, co-founder of WeCopwatch, he says:
“Honestly, a lot of people took to CopWatch, but people still had fear because things were happening to people. CopWatch – It’s really about the education. It’s not about us going out trying to be a super hero and trying to watch the cops. It’s about holding the police accountable for each other. You can’t make the police be accountable if you don’t know your own rights. You can’t go and film the police and you aren’t doing it for yourself.”
He adds, “It’s important to have organizations like CopWatch because in order to change a situation, you have to raise the awareness of the issue first. And, then you can figure out what to do. This is community looking out for community. We’re not trying to make the situation worst. We’re actually there for the people.”
Whitt goes on to discuss how eventually things will change with citizens filming law enforcement. “They are going to be able to criminalize citizens as a whole for filming. At some point, they’re gonna start making some regulations, and if you look at it we are actually creating a pretty solid standard if people want to follow in our footsteps.”
He concludes, “Just look outside your window and see what’s going on. We are staying in the background and people are going out filming on their own.”
“People have died trying to change the way the system is and there are people just like us — afraid. We have to get pass this fear. It’s not about me anymore. My kids are about to be in this world. I gotta help change their reality,” says Whitt.
Copwatch is executive produced by Oscar-winning duo, TJ Martin and Daniel Lindsay (Undefeated), Jacob Crawford, Patrick Hamm, Tirrell D. Whittley, produced by Matthew Perniciaro and Michael Sherman for Bow and Arrow Entertainment and distributed by Gunpowder & Sky under its FilmBuff label. Emmy Award winning composer Kris Bowers composed the film’s score.
The new COPWATCH documentary released by Bow and Arrow Entertainment in association with Gunpowder & Sky, will screen theatrically in the following select cities leading up to the Video On Demand debut on September 29th (additional cities to be announced). For MORE info on ‘Copwatch,” go HERE.
EURweb associate journalist Angela P. Moore is based in the Atlanta area. A passionate writer-and-photographer-at-heart, she freelances for local and national magazines. She pens articles on celebrity profiles, art, music, business, travel, entertainment, health, self-help, and consumer-related issues. She is also the founder and owner of APM Public Relations. In the realization of her life-long passion for writing, Angela will release her debut book Spring 2018. She can be reached via [email protected].
The Virtual United Negro College Fund Tour Heads to NY, DC & NJ on Fri & Sat-Nov. 20 & 21 (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)
*African American students interested in going to college can attend the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Fall 2020 virtual Empower Me Tour. Set for this Friday and Saturday (November 20 & 21, 2020), New York, District of Columbia, and New Jersey will be repped. (This year’s tour kicked off earlier this month in Wisconsin and Illinois). To register, go here.
The Empower Me Tour is an extension of the goals of the UNCF. Founded in 1944, the UNCF, a non-profit, has raised more than $5 billion and helped more than 500,000 students attend 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The EUR caught up with Stacey Lee, the tour’s director for four years, who discussed the importance of the event.
“The UNCF is the nation’s largest provider of education support to minority students,” said Lee. “The Empowerment Tour has been executed for the past 12 years and last year along we offered over $12 million dollars in scholarships.”
Lee continued, “I think the great thing is that during these times, even with COVID-19, is that a number of corporations (Wells Fargo/P&/FedEx/Disney/Goldman Sachs) and donors have really been providing opportunity and financial access to our schools and students.”
The tour is packed with information and resources so that students and parents have the right tools to make informed decisions.
“It’s a free event that provides educational support, scholarships, interviews with colleges, empowerment, and information on how to get to and through college. We also provide this information for parents as well. We have a parent section that focuses on financial aid and the things you need to get your students to college.”
Lee continued, “Sometimes we have students that don’t realize that they can attend college. They can receive scholarships. Some of them don’t even know what an HBCU is. So, it’s inspirational for me to see these students receive this information and the excitement that’s around this tour.”
In addition to college information, panel sessions on issues affecting the community will also take place. Legendary rapper Bun B will be part of a special My Black Is Beautiful panel. The panel will have discussions with girls and boys and the MC will lead the male portion.
“It’s about empowerment,” Bun B told the EUR. “It’s vital for us to lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices. We just talk about now what that role is in this COVID world. And with everything that we are seeing with young Black men on television, we want to keep them motivated and centered. We want to make sure that they are not discouraged in this moment.”
Ever since Kamala Harris threw her hat into the presidential race and elected vice president of the United States, a spotlight has shined on the fact that she’s an HBCU grad (Howard University) and member of the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. These facts are not lost on the UNCF.
“Kamala has really boosted people’s awareness about HBCUs and (African American sororities) and the type of people that come out of HBCUs. HBCUS have also provided so many people from science, mathematics, and engineering programs (STEM).”
Bun B added, “We have more than enough examples to show you how beneficial an education from an HBCU can be. So, there is no reason to not be a part of an HBCU because the world is just as available to you as it is for anyone else attending any other type of university.”
New Music Buzz: Jazzy Rita Shelby’s ‘Goodbye 2020’
*SB Music presents “Goodbye 2020” a new single for the times we are in.
“Goodbye 2020” is performed by Jazzy Rita Shelby and written by Miss Shelby (ASCAP) and Eddie Lawrence Miller (BMI).
It’s the perfect anthem to end a year that has impacted the globe.
EURweb’s Jazzy Rita is also a prolific lyricist who has teamed up with Eddie Miller for “Goodbye 2020” because it was timely and convenient for the birth of a song such as this.
Eddie Miller is a coveted keyboardist & vocalist who performs regularly with Brian Culbertson and he’s the Rhodes Festival musical director. Jazzy Rita rose to notoriety as host & performer at The Starlight Jazz Serenade, an annual benefit concert in North Hollywood with an A list of stars. As a teen Miss Shelby was inspired to write songs by the legendary David Porter.
This year has been a year like no other. “Goodbye 2020” is an ode to the world for the year that we have seen and the hope that lies ahead. Radio Programmers click here for adds.
“Goodbye 2020” is released on the SB Music label and was recorded at Wishing Wells Studio in Canoga Park, CA. Willie Daniels and Mildred Black perform background vocals along with Jazzy Rita. The video is produced & directed by Jazzy Rita (LaRita Shelby), filmed & edited by Reggie Simon of Simon Vision Media, with wardrobe styling by Jazzy Rita and Poet Roni Girl’s Army Couture. “Goodbye 2020” is available on most digital platforms. Click here to listen on Spotify.
Celebrate Halloween with ‘Spell’ Starring Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine and John Beasley / WATCH
*Today/TONIGHT is Halloween and what could be a more perfect way to celebrate than with the release of SPELL? Enjoy the clips below to get you in the spooky spirit!
Omari Hardwick (“Power,” Sorry to Bother You), Loretta Devine (“Black-ish,” Crash) and John Beasley (The Sum of All Fears, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) star in the terrifying thriller SPELL, coming to Premium Video-On-Demand and Digital today October 30 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
While flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Omari Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Loretta Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.
DIRECTED BY | Mark Tonderai
SCREENPLAY BY | Kurt Wimmer
STARRING | Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, John Beasley
AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS | Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, DirecTV, VUDU, Xfinity, FandangoNOW and more.
Rating | R – violence, disturbing/bloody images, and language
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