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 began using video as an activist with the Occupy movement. He was a prolific contributor to the YouTube Channel of Occupy Wall Street OccupyTVNY and produced the weekly public access TV show Occupy Brooklyn 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 of the 67th Precinct -- 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. 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 67th Precinct clamped down on the protests, making 47 arrests in one night, some very brutal. In the face of the overwhelming violent force, the nightly protests suddenly dwindled to quiet monthly vigils at a streetcorner altar under the eyes of stationed police.
In December 2014, a New York Times investigation uncovered a pattern of framing suspects with planted guns at the 67th Precinct, which led to the dismissal of one man's case the next month.
On March 28, 2016, the Daily News reported that forensic reports including fingerprint and DNA analysis showed no evidence of Kimani ever having touched the gun police claimed he pointed at them.
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson still refuses to bring criminal charges against Kimani's killers, and the family is pursuing a civil case against the City of New York.
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