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Power (2024) — Movie Review

In the thought-provoking documentary “Power,” Yance Ford explores the persistent issue of police brutality, reflecting on its history and the lasting impacts on communities, particularly African American ones, across the United States. Stemming from the filmmaker's personal experience, as his brother was a victim of murder, Ford employs a more detached perspective in this film, letting other voices speak to the multifaceted aspects of police brutality.

Distinguished academics, journalists, and law enforcement officers contribute their insights into the historical roots and the depth of the issue, dating back to 19th-century policing of Indigenous people and Black communities by the military and individuals set on maintaining social order. They unravel the post-war evolution of policing, the use of power against Black communities through Black Codes post-slavery, and the complexities that have shaped the modern issue.

A compelling perspective is presented by Charlie Adams, a Black member of the Minnesota Police Force. His experiences straddle the distressing personal stories of children caught in gun violence and the hard realities of police work. He sheds light on the systemic failures faced by Black children in the justice system, and how his support for Black colleagues has impacted his professional trajectory.

Power (2024) — Movie Review

Ford challenges both his audiences and his expert contributors with probing questions. He interrogates broad statements, asking who exactly allowed police brutality to perpetuate, and contests the need for graphic footage to prove the existence of police-violence. He juxtaposes clips of positive portrayals of police with audio of brutality incidents, creating a stark contrast between media images and the harsh reality often concealed from the public eye.

Rich in archival material, the documentary supports its points appropriately. Clips from historical films and photos dating back to the Spanish American War reveal the long-standing roots of the issue, while images of contemporary surveillance point towards the future of policing.

“Power” aims to stimulate debate around police brutality rather than meticulously assess it in a trial-like manner. The documentary serves as an initial exploration of the topic for those unaware of its deep-seated presence and a further examination for those aware of its dangerous and enduring legacy. Despite the heaviness of the topic, Ford adeptly manages to keep the narrative flowing, breaking down complex topics such as qualified immunity and the fallout of policies like Stop and Frisk. In its entirety, “Power” offers an enlightening perspective on a centuries-old issue, ensuring audiences gain a fresh understanding of the matter.