Must Watch Documentary “CopWatch”
If you are looking for a good documentary to watch check out Copwatch! It ‘s a true story of WeCopwatch, an organization whose mission is to film police activity as a non-violent form of protest and deterrent to police brutality. Directed by Camilla Hall, theCopwatch documentary profiles several WeCopwatch members – revealing how their mission to film police activity and brutality has impacted their lives. “Copwatch is not about what happened in front of the cameras, but it’s about those who stood behind them. It’s about a sense brotherhood that developed through the shared trauma of standing up to police brutality,” shares Camilla.
This documentary is about; Jacob Crawford (co-founder) who has spent the last 15 years with a camera in his hand documenting police activity. David Whitt(co-founder) a young father who lived in Ferguson and started filming after Michael Brown’s “Hands Up” shooting. Kevin Moore(Baltimore) awoke to the screams of his friend and neighbor Freddie Gray. He grabbed a camera and ran outside, filming as police dragged the injured young man into the back of a paddy wagon. Like Ramsey, Kevin became a target for making his voice heard and was arrested shortly after he filmed the video while attending a protest. Ramsey Orta who captured Eric Garner’s final words “I Can’t Breathe” on his cell phone in currently incarcerated which the documentary covers.
Interview With Director Camilla Hall & David Whitt Cop Watch Co-Founder
Journalist: I just watched the film, it was amazing, I had an array of emotions, most of them very positive. I think you did a wonderful job in directing this. So, is this the story that you initially started out wanting to tell, or in doing this documentary did the story change? Camilla.
Camilla: I think for me meeting David, Jacob, Kevin and Ramsey, to me this film was going to be about these four guys because they were so inspiring and interesting and had gone through so many struggles and challenges to be kind of standing up against police brutality. It was obvious to me that the story was always going to be about them. A lot of times that people said, you should interview all these different cases, you should get all these different people in, and to me it was like no, I want to have a story of a small number of people who really kind of have an impact on my life, and in terms of the actual story that unfolded, I mean particularly in the case of Ramsey, we didn’t know what was going to happen from the beginning, we just knew that this is a guy who was facing a lot of challenges, a lot of legal problems, and we didn’t know how it going to end and obviously, no spoilers, but we all know what happened there and we just wanted to make sure that we are with him – whatever happened. And this is also in the case of Kevin and Baltimore. Kevin really thought that he was going to be caught in that legal process and I think we didn’t know what was going to happen, we didn’t know that all of those charges would be dropped and obviously this kind of development now is mounted most beating, personally over that case, I think that went in a direction that even the most pessimistic person wouldn’t want to predict.
Journalist: Camilla, what’s something that you learned from having an opportunity to meet these men and really hear their story, what did you learn?
Camilla: I think the news headlines and everybody reads the news but to understand the format and the depth police brutality creates in the neighborhood and in the communities and the impact that they have on everybody living in that environment on a daily basis, I mean it just really was so distressing for me and something that I had not understood at all before I started the process.
Journalist: David, I want to ask you. In starting Copwatch, what took you from ‘I want to do something’ to action?
David: Well, when Mike Brown was killed in our neighborhood, then that was the time for all of us in the community to start, really at one point, we had begun to blame ourselves for the death of this young man, I mean, of course there were people who blamed us but, we kind of blamed ourselves, then we decided that we need to do something about it. We had already believed that the police were going to get away with this murder, so we started moving towards steps of, what can we do to prevent this type of thing happening in the future and if it does happen, what can we do to make sure it is documented. One day, Jacob showed up in the neighborhood, we desperately needed, Cameras, so when Jacob showed up on the scene, it was just like – I jumped at the opportunity. I picked his camera up like, I’ve been watching the cast my whole life, I just didn’t have a camera but he paired that with information, so there was a lot of information at the time, the people in the community needed to understand why was it important for us to Copwatch. So, and I know a little bit about this system, so I was like, “you know what? I got to be the one, to just try to like – do my part, in making sure that the community gets this information”.
Journalist: What is driving you to continue fighting this fight? What is driving you to keep going?
David: Well, actually, it is the people. We meet real people in the street, it’s not the social media type of relationship that you had with people, you meet real people on the street. Sometimes, when I go out cop watching right in my neighborhood after a cop stop some people often thank me for being there because they themselves were just afraid, so it’s more of victory. If you look at the big picture, it could be overwhelming, but you have to take cop watching to ‘what can you do?’, and not trying to figure out or trying to change the whole world, because the world is going to change when it supposed to change, we can’t do anything, we just have to play our role. So, that’s what has been my drive, also when Mike Brown was killed, I saw Mike’s son in the street, I didn’t see him, I grabbed him, I didn’t know who Mike Brown was, so for me, being a black man raised in America, knowing what I went through growing up, then having two sons from my wife and also two daughters, which is understanding on what level my kids could be going through it. So, yes this is a wakeup call for me, my daughter is into it now, like when she see the police, she know how to pull a camera out or tell me ‘Daddy, there’s a cop there’, or we just begin to create that act like a normal thing to hold the police accountable as citizens.
Journalist: David, how do you feel towards cop? And Camilla, did this experience, this documentary, change how you look at the cops or how you look at the process?
Camilla: I think for me, as a white female, my relationship with the cops is so different to David or any of the guys in the film, that’s kind of make it what made me interested to learn more because obviously I do have white privilege, but I wanted to try to at least begin to understand how other people are experiencing these relationships, and I don’t think I could ever understand clearly but at least, just try to learn and to listen. But at the same time, yeah I think I probably I do feel that there are good cops and there are people doing this job and that essentially, it’s incredibly hard job and one of the things and different from where I’m from is obviously gun crime is so much higher here in the US and the level of violence that cops are dealing with. It’s extremely hard and I do think at the same time, that there does have to be a stronger commitment within the police department to hold cops accountable when things are done wrong and even good cops need to be part of that and really try to pressure for more accountability when things didn’t go as planned.
David: So, I would have to say, I don’t hate police but I can say, I do hate the institution because you have cops, they go to work – this is their job. You’ll agree with this been a good job choice, knowing their good job is to go out there and to break the law actually, like they’re told to do these things, when they stop and frisk, this is unlawful for cops to do this stuff, racial profiling, like this stuff just go’s on. I know that, even if a cop wanted to do good, because of the code of silence, because of them wanting to keep their job and keep their lives going on, they’re not going to risk any of that for me, I’m a nobody. You know what I’m saying? And the next person is a nobody. All these people getting gunned down, getting shot down by the police. If they was to ask me if there’s such thing as a good cop, then these cops will be turning these officers in, and they won’t allow themselves to corroborate the story that fit the narrative that puts the police in a good light. I’ve got to say that, I don’t hate the cops but at this level, at this stage in my life, I can’t trust them either. I have been, in the past, been stopped by the police and been questioned for no reason, you know what I’m saying – asking me where I’m going when I’m in my neighborhood. What are you doing in my neighborhood? I live here, is there a problem? They’ve kind of changed the dynamics, I took the anger that I had towards the institution, and then started to understand how this institution actually working, how you can be affected.
Journalist: What do you hope that young people – black people, white people – what do you hope that they take away from this documentary?
Camilla: I think from my standpoint, what I felt strongly about was that there were a lot of young people around me, who were looking for a way to help, regardless of their race, or their background, or their privilege, and I think the idea that just literally anybody that has a cell phone can choose to be a witness for somebody else is so helpful. Also, I think, that’s kind of the main takeaway for me, that you have a choice to protect your neighbor, the person that you walk by on the street, anyone. You have a choice to be there for somebody else. And at the same time, I think the step also show that that’s their responsibility and it’s not just “I’m going to shoot a viral video”, it’s like it’s the responsibility of being a witness and that’s why I like the fact that it shows that that’s a very powerful thing and it comes as a responsibility.
David: For me, I got to say that what I would hope that people will get from this documentary is – take the characters away, and just look at the information. I hope that can fire somebody up to at least investigate, it doesn’t matter if the documentary is only going to show glimpse and pieces of what this thing is really about. So, I just hope that the young audience that don’t really know anything about it that they’ll want to know more and, like get involved. This thing is still going on for us, there’s still ways like to give more information, this is an introduction, this is hopefully a platform set to like create the conversation.
David: Well, the last thing I could just say is that, when the people do actually see this documentary, look at it for what it is and understand that this is a story about four individuals, this is people have been doing this Cop Watching thing long before Mike Brown, Trevor Martin and Austin Grant, so we have to keep in mind that these are a millions of peoples’ story. It’s just not David, that’s why I say like take the persons away if you will, but just understand that this story is somebody else’s story. Everybody, not lying when they’re saying that the police is attacking people, they’ve been beaten, the police are actually planting drugs on them, this stuff actually happens. So, let’s hope that the audiences would remember that and just take heed to that.
La'Shawn Chambers302 Posts
Part Owner of CampusLATELY/ blogger contributor. A graduate of Prairie View A&M University and proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.