*Whether in dramatic movie scenes, on the street, or during the Black Lives Matter protests throughout the past year, the phrase “HANDS UP, DON’T SHOOT,” has a powerful meaning that’s recognizable to everyone. We hear those words or see them on a billboard, and know it’s referencing police brutality.
This month, a new movie is putting the wildly debated and continuous issues front and center in director Chuck Whitman’s latest feature film “Hands Up.”
“It’s a blue thing, it’s a badge thing,” said co-lead Jamal Woolard (“Notorious”).
Growing up in Brooklyn, NY and spending time in Chicago throughout his life, Woolard has seen the devastation police brutality has had on communities of color. He sees it as less of a Black and white issue and more of a system issue.
“If I get stopped by a white cop and a Black cop and [the] Black cop is letting [the] white cop be brutal to me…there’s just no way, to explain the feeling,” he said.
Speaking from a hypothetical scenario – and not something he’s experienced personally, knowing others who have – allows Woolard to point the finger at America’s justice system.
“Gang violence, the youth killing each other, it’s everywhere,” he said. “The other day, I was on Instagram and someone was talking about the milk crate challenge, they said, ‘look at these Black people, they love to see each other fall.’ And that’s what we do, we knock each other down every time we get up.”
Woolard would like to see more unity, a true sense of community and togetherness among people of color.
He has positioned his acting career to depict very monumental moments in history, especially Black history, which have personal connections to him. He isn’t triggered or shying away from painful roles because he knows the power of influence he posses as a Black man on the silver screen.
“I love it, because I’ve been through the experience. I feel like the best actors in the world, have been through the experience…I’m just hoping it can change the way a little boy or little girl thinks when they watch the movie,” he said.
The timely film, set in Chicago, follows a Black inner city teen, who after his cousin is shot and killed by a white police officer, desperately fights for a way out of the most notorious murder capital of America.
“Hands Up” is in theaters and on-demand.