A person of color is killed by a police officer, security worker or vigilante every 36 hours in the United States. In New York City, where police are under federal scrutiny for their racist stop and frisk policies, at least 25 people have died at the hands of law enforcement since 2012. This is the story of one community's quest for justice.
Defended In The Streets is a narrative told by Kimani's friends, family, and the people of East Flatbush. Taking an investigative approach into the death of Kimani Gray, it also tells the story of a community's fight for justice and builds the connections between police brutality, Stop and Frisk, racial profiling, and mass incarceration.
Dan Kinch interviews Atiq Zabinski and Kelly Stuart about the film.
Vice.com article by Peter Rugh asks whether new signs of gun-planting at the 67th Precinct call for a second look at Kimani's case.
Our interview with Occupy.com.
The Nation article by Raven Rakia skewers the myth that body cameras will lead to more accountable policing, contextualizing the issue with the experience of cop watchers.
We are a small team of filmmakers, independent journalists and video activists who are investigating the circumstances surrounding the police shooting of Kimani Gray.
Raven Rakia is a photographer and filmmaker who documents prison justice work. She has also worked on two previous documentaries: one on the labor movement in New York and one on LGBT activism in Maryland.
Kelly Stuart is a playwright, videographer, and lecturer at Columbia University. Recent plays and short documentaries have dealt with human rights issues in Turkey. She received the 2012 Saroyan Award for her play Belonging to the Sky, about murdered Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
Atiq Zabinski has been a video activist since the start of the Occupy movement. He continues to be a prolific contributor to the YouTube Channel of Occupy Wall Street OccupyTVNY and his weekly public access TV show Occupy Brooklyn TV is archived on the YouTube Channel Occupy Public Access TV.
On March 9, 2013, 16-year-old Kimani "Kiki" Gray was shot dead by plainclothes police officers in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The police claimed that the youth had pulled a gun on them, and quickly released his arrest record to the public. The media assisted the police in portraying him as a gang member and turning public sympathy away from the slain teen. While Kimani was vilified, his killers -- Sgt. Mourad Mourad and Officer Jovaniel Cordova -- were depicted as heroes who had been "commended for acts of bravery on patrol" in the past.
Kimani's community, however, had a different story to tell. Witnesses soon came forward saying Kimani had no gun in his hands and was laying on the pavement, pleading for his life, as the cops continued to fire. Protesting the depiction of him as a criminal, his school principal, teachers, and classmates wrote to the press, describing him as a friendly, creative young man who never missed school and was always smiling. Meanwhile, facts about the officers' previous civil rights violations began to surface. So far the city has paid more than $200,000 in settlements over Mourad and Cordova's abuses, which have included the falsification of evidence and excessive use of force.
Hundreds of youth protested in the streets following his death. The community continues to defend Kimani's name through monthly vigils.
Since the mass protests beginning March 12, 2013 we have been shooting footage and making short videos about the events since Kimani's killing. Here are a few selections. Join our mailing list to be notified whenever we upload new ones.
Under the scrutiny of police, friends and family gather with community organizers and activists for the first of the monthly candlelight vigils for Kimani. Featuring powerful speeches by Shanduke McPhatter (Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Change) and Jose LaSalle (Stop Stop and Frisk Freedom Fighters.)
Kenneth Montgomery, attorney for Carol Gray puts the case in the broader context of systemic racism and policies like "Stop and Frisk". He speaks frankly about the challenges of working within the system, and the "symbiotic relationship" that exists between the district attorney's office and the police, who as he recounts, discouraged witness participation in this case by chasing away witnesses from the scene at gunpoint.
Friends and family celebrate Kimani's life with tributes, prayers, music and dance. Police attempted to break up the party, but seemed unprepared to deal with a righteously angry crowd and an activist film crew. Kimani's mother Carol gets on the mike and sends the cops packing.
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