'Trayvon Martin' leads wave of racial-justice documentaries

Racial injustice -- focused on the treatment of young African-American men by law enforcement -- is the topic of seve...

Posted: Jul 30, 2018 3:45 PM
Updated: Jul 30, 2018 3:45 PM

Racial injustice -- focused on the treatment of young African-American men by law enforcement -- is the topic of several upcoming documentaries, which together provide an in-depth portrait of the fractured relationship between certain communities and the justice system.

The Paramount Network and BET take the deepest dive with "Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story," a six-episode unscripted series devoted to the 2012 killing and subsequent trial of George Zimmerman. The same night, PBS will premiere "Whose Streets?," which documents the aftermath of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Mo.

Those productions are followed in August by "Sugar Town," a sobering Investigation Discovery documentary about a young man who died while in police custody in Louisiana; and "Crime + Punishment," a spare look at New York city police officers who were penalized for resisting pressure to improve arrest-rate numbers by targeting people of color.

Each project has its merits, but the real impact comes in their collective weight, seeing similar patterns and attitudes reenacted across different regions and jurisdictions.

"Crime + Punishment" is somewhat unique in that it looks at the officers who resisted a policy that their bosses denied even existed. It also highlights some high-profile cases that were a byproduct of those arrests, including Eric Garner's death from a police chokehold in 2014.

"Sugar Town," meanwhile, tells the story of 22-year-old Victor White III, a reverend's son who was fatally shot in the back of a police car. The official story -- that he somehow took his own life, when his hands were cuffed behind him -- immediately prompted suspicion, leading to it being labeled "the Houdini handcuff suicide."

The demand for answers by White's heartbroken family generated national headlines, exposing a pattern of corruption related to the small parish's sheriff's department.

Similarly, the Martin case became a national rallying point, after Zimmerman followed and shot Martin, 17, claiming self-defense at his trial.

The case triggered also debate about Florida's Stand Your Ground Law -- which is back in the headlines, thanks to another shooting, this time of an unarmed man in a parking-lot dispute -- and gave rise to the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.

As the series notes in painstaking detail, the jury's not-guilty verdict was a byproduct of numerous factors, from the way the defense exploited the image of African-American men as predators to the many missteps by the prosecution. But the filmmakers also take time to humanize Martin, while presenting Zimmerman's history of alerting the police about African-American youths in the neighborhood -- raising issues of racial profiling that were excluded from consideration at trial.

"Racial profiling is all this case is about. That's the entire thing," author Mychal Denzel Smith notes in the film.

Modern means of recording police interactions, including cellphone and dash-cam videos, have played a pivotal role in the evolving coverage of these events, providing visual evidence of abuses that were previously unavailable.

Several of these cases have commanded widespread media coverage, but there's a clear benefit in exploring the issues with greater depth and context, which is often elusive when faced with the vagaries of a fast-moving news cycle.

In a sense, these documentaries -- coupled with other recent ones, such as Ava DuVernay's "13th" and the Oscar-nominated short "Traffic Stop" -- bring to mind the parable about the blind men and the elephant. Watched individually, each offers a different glimpse of the larger problem. It requires taking a step back -- and comparing notes -- to gain perspective on the complete picture.

"Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story" and "Whose Streets?" premiere July 30 at 10 p.m. on Paramount Network/BET and PBS, respectively.

"Sugar Town" airs Aug. 6 at 8 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.

"Crime + Punishment" opens in limited theatrical release on Aug. 24.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62303

Reported Deaths: 1724
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19677840
Ramsey7775269
Dakota4558106
Anoka3792115
Stearns291320
Washington219247
Olmsted178123
Nobles17736
Scott160822
Mower11072
Rice10428
Blue Earth9415
Wright9035
Carver8903
Clay79240
Sherburne73710
Kandiyohi7051
St. Louis60020
Todd4292
Lyon4253
Freeborn3601
Nicollet35113
Steele3512
Watonwan3281
Benton3233
Winona26516
Beltrami2490
Crow Wing24614
Le Sueur2301
Martin2095
McLeod2080
Chisago2071
Goodhue2029
Otter Tail1983
Cottonwood1770
Becker1611
Pipestone1589
Polk1564
Waseca1490
Itasca14612
Carlton1450
Douglas1442
Unassigned13346
Dodge1310
Isanti1310
Pine1290
Murray1241
Chippewa1091
Morrison931
Wabasha920
Brown892
Faribault890
Meeker872
Rock850
Sibley842
Koochiching803
Jackson790
Cass762
Pennington751
Mille Lacs723
Fillmore710
Renville675
Lincoln590
Grant563
Swift551
Roseau530
Yellow Medicine520
Pope480
Houston440
Aitkin401
Norman400
Kanabec372
Redwood360
Hubbard350
Wilkin353
Marshall290
Mahnomen271
Wadena270
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake220
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse110
Lac qui Parle80
Cook50
Lake of the Woods40
Kittson30

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49830

Reported Deaths: 948
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10535208
Woodbury375452
Black Hawk318066
Linn244588
Johnson212320
Dallas191335
Buena Vista179712
Scott175814
Dubuque172231
Marshall145226
Pottawattamie135029
Story118115
Wapello92733
Muscatine85748
Webster8428
Crawford7363
Sioux6503
Cerro Gordo64417
Warren5821
Tama55629
Jasper48427
Wright4781
Plymouth47412
Clinton4214
Dickinson3854
Louisa37814
Washington30510
Boone2663
Hamilton2521
Franklin24812
Bremer2317
Clarke2063
Clay2031
Carroll1962
Des Moines1942
Emmet1934
Shelby1871
Hardin1850
Marion1770
Floyd1633
Benton1601
Poweshiek1598
Allamakee1584
Jackson1581
Mahaska14217
Guthrie1375
Henry1364
Cedar1351
Jones1342
Buchanan1301
Butler1272
Madison1272
Delaware1231
Hancock1232
Humboldt1221
Lee1214
Lyon1192
Pocahontas1182
Cherokee1101
Harrison1101
Clayton1083
Taylor1000
Iowa971
Winneshiek971
Page960
Kossuth950
Mills931
Monona910
Palo Alto900
Winnebago890
Jefferson870
Calhoun862
Fayette860
Sac860
Osceola850
Cass821
Grundy821
Mitchell800
Union781
Monroe748
Lucas734
Worth680
Davis612
Montgomery604
Chickasaw560
Appanoose523
Howard500
Fremont440
Greene420
Keokuk391
Van Buren361
Adair340
Ida320
Audubon291
Decatur260
Ringgold231
Wayne201
Adams170
Unassigned70
Rochester
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 74°
Mason City
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 71°
Albert Lea
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 73°
Austin
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 75°
Charles City
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
One more chance for rain
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Seans Weather 8/13

Image

Dental offices adjusting to the Pandemic

Image

Pest control services on the rise

Image

MSHSL releases guidelines for fall training sessions

Image

Hagedorn Introduces Livestock Relief Bill

Image

A Closer Look at Boating Safety

Image

Funding child care during the work week

Image

Rochester leaders consider their successors

Image

Sara's 10pm Forecast - Wednesday

Image

Sara;s 6pm Forecast - Wednesday

Community Events