Gripping new documentary flips the script on police reform with irrefutable facts and evidence.
❓When’s the last time you heard the phrase “Defund the Police”? In 2022, the NY Times officially declared the movement dead, and although it may have stopped trending, the drive is hardly defunct. As public attention waned, a momentum was growing among activists and academics who’d gone on crunching numbers and publishing research that proved again and again how fundamentally flawed our criminal justice system is. And how it’s realistically possible to rebuild it without losing all sense of law and order. 🤯
Like any other policy issue, it benefits from logical understanding. When you have all the facts, profoundly changing how we approach criminal justice in the US is a reasonable proposition that’s supported by decades of indisputable evidence. 🔍📚🧠
But when it comes to feeling safe, we tend to be easily swayed by strong men who promise even in bad faith to protect us. It doesn’t help that arguments for restitution and rehabilitation are complex and nuanced. Any reform is always pitched in the media as a radical, dangerous idea – which tends to stop productive dialog in its tracks. Battle cries to “Defund” and “Abolish” only fan public fear and misinterpretation.
Talking about our safety doesn’t have to freak us out! It can actually be pretty inspiring. There’s lots of really interesting stuff we know now about human behavior, and a ton of new technology allowing us to study huge swaths of people over time. Recently, a riveting new documentary has been sweeping grassroots circuits, re-awakening public outcry for policing reform.
🎬 Reimagining Safety (2023) brings audiences up to speed on everything we know about crime and punishment – and wait’ll you see who’s talking. Director Matthew Solomon found ten experts from widely different perspectives: activists, law professors, law enforcement, sociologists, politicians… And every one is a clear and captivating speaker. Reimagining Safety makes criminal justice reform accessible, digestible, and compelling to explore.
Squeamish about dismantling society? That’s not a thing. “No one is suggesting we close all the courts, fire the police, and fling open the jail cells,” Matthew said in a recent interview, “Reform is a process, that begins when we decide to stop investing in mass incarceration. Direct those budget excesses, instead, into supportive services in high-crime areas.” Fight poverty, lower crime — it’s just science. And successful models even exist to help guide us.
In 90 minutes, Reimagining Safety exposes how our current punitive bureaucracy fails to deliver justice or security, and lays out an uplifting path forward where we can all live fuller, safer lives. All welcome to this film’s Philadelphia premiere, featuring Q&A with the director and community panelists, including perhaps the only teenager in the city with his own radio show and social justice nonprofit. ✊🏽🗣️🎙️ Hope to see you there!
Wednesday, November 15 (6:00 – 9:30)
The Fallser Club, 3721 Midvale Ave, East Falls
REIMAGINING SAFETY, a 90-minute documentary film
Worldwide protests following the 2020 murder of George Floyd included calls to defund or abolish the police until a sharp rise in crime — brought on by a global pandemic — gave politicians and police supporters the fuel they needed to suppress the movement. Unfortunately, a detailed conversation about transforming public safety was never had. In this film (shot on iPhone), 10 experts discuss how policing and incarceration create more harm than good, why the system persists, and what changes can be made to make everyone safe.
PRESENTED BY: Nigel Ousey was twelve in 2020, when he founded See Beyond My Skin as a way to push back on dehumanizing narratives behind over-policing and under-investment in Black and Brown communities. Currently, Nigel is an intern at Germantown Radio, with his own show “Big Questions” where he interviews local guests about big issues (airs First Thursdays at 6pm on 92.9 FM). In 2023, he was awarded a Civic Spring Fellowship from the Institute for Citizens & Scholars to continue his efforts with See Beyond My Skin. Tonight’s screening is his organization’s first time co-hosting an event. He’s excited to promote better understanding and network with others for radical, evidence-based reforms.
MODERATOR: Seth Anderson-Oberman is a Black working-class advocate, public school parent, and lifelong Germantowner. A union organizer for the past 24 years, Seth has been an activist since he was in college, where he helped lead protests against union-busting and community displacement in North Philadelphia. He co-founded the Philadelphia Labor for Black Lives Coalition and fostering youth-led activism as a member of the Board of Directors for the Philadelphia Student Union. After a very narrow loss to three-term incumbent Councilmember Cindy Bass for 8th District City Council last May, Seth Anderson-Oberman is an emerging Philadelphia leader and community organizer for civic action.
MEET THE DIRECTOR: Matthew Solomon was born and raised in Los Angeles and has been in the entertainment business for most of his adult life — first in music and then as an award-winning writer/director. His passion for people, equity, and social justice led him to a career in conflict resolution (he’s now adjunct professor at Antioch University teaching Conflict Resolution). His Masters degree study involved a deep dive into understanding policing, the carceral system, and public safety. This film was his capstone project.
Alex S. Vitale — Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. One of the featured experts in Reimagining Safety, he’s also been widely published in The NY Times, Washington Post, The Guardian (and many others). He’s written two books: City of Disorder and The End of Policing. He has also appeared on CNN, NPR, and other major news networks as well as The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has spent the last 30 years writing about policing and consults community based movements, human and civil rights organizations, and governments internationally.
Menika Dirkson, PhD — Philadelphia native who specializes in Race and Policing in post-1968 Urban America. Her dissertation explored how Philadelphia’s police department, journalists, and city officials used news media to disseminate crime narratives to convince the white middle-class to resist desegregation and support tough-on-crime policing in the inner city from 1958 to the present-day. Dirkson’s book, Hope and Struggle in the Policed City: The Rise of Black Criminalization and Resistance in Philadelphia, uses robustly-researched information from newspapers, census records, oral histories, police reports, maps, housing project pamphlets, and other documentation to draw connections between racial bias and over-policing that affects nearly every aspect of society. (Release date: JULY 2024)
Movita Johnson-Harrell, MSW — Former Supervisor of Victim/Witness Services and Restorative Justice at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office under Larry Krasner, she now works to address the social determinants that lead to gun violence including systemic racism, poverty and gentrification. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and a survivor who lost her father, brother, cousin and two sons to homicide. She has a master’s in Social Work from U of P; her local nonprofit, the CHARLES Foundation (Creating Healthy Alternatives Results in Less Emotional Suffering), is dedicated to helping communities heal from generational trauma.
Evan Laine — Professor and director of the Law & Society Program and faculty director for the Arlen Specter Center at Jefferson University, East Falls; he also produces the Roxboro House Round Table on G-Town Radio. A former attorney specializing in civil trial law, Laine has written and lectured in the fields of conspiracy theory and civil law and is the author of “Nixon and the Dragon Lady” a book that explores undercover Vietnam theories with potential global consequences.
EXPERTS FEATURED IN FILM:
Dr. Jody Armour – The Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law at the University of Southern California
Nikki Blak – Sociologist, anti-racism educator, and Inglewood born and raised|
Sennett Devermont – “Mr. Checkpoint,” police auditor and founder of the AFTP Foundation (Always For The People or, as he says in the movie “Always Film The Police”)
George Gascón – Los Angeles County District Attorney
Jose Gutierrez – Licensed social worker, therapist, and Restorative Justice practitioner
Dr. El Jones – Professor and co-author of “Defunding the Police – Planning the Way Forward for the HRM”
Hadiya Kennedy – Former detective, The Los Angeles Police Department
Hawk Newsome – Co-founder of Black Lives Matter NY and Black Opportunities
Gina Viola – former LA Mayoral candidate who ran on an abolition platform
Alex S Vitale – Professor, law enforcement expert, and author of “End of Policing”
🏆 AWARDS 🥇
- Best Documentary Feature – Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, Los Angeles CA
- Best Documentary Feature – The Lost River Film Fest, San Marcos TX
- Best Documentary Feature – Crown Point International Film Festival, Chicago IL
- Special Mention Award Best Documentary – The San Pedro International Film Festival, San Pedro CA
- Best Cinematography – The People’s Film Festival, Harlem, NY
- Award of Recognition – The Impact DOCS Awards, San Diego, CA
- Honorable Mention – The Blackbird Film Festival, New York, NY
- Honorable Mention – Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival, Athens Greece
- Finalist Best Documentary Feature – Washington DC International Cinema Festival, Washington DC
- Finalist Best Documentary Feature – The Beyond Hollywood International Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA
- Current Finalist Best Social Justice Documentary – Lane Doc Fest, Jackson TN
- Current Semi-Finalist Best Documentary Feature – Oakland Film Festival, Oakland CA
- Current Semi-Finalist Best Documentary Feature – San Jose Independent Film Festival, San Jose CA
- Official Selection – The Culver City film Festival, Culver City CA
- Official Selection – The Mesa International Film Festival, Mesa AZ
- Official Selection – The Las Vegas International Film and Screenplay Festival, Las Vegas NV
THIS COMMUNITY SCREENING IS OFFERED IN PARTNERSHIP:
See Beyond My Skin – a local storytelling non-profit dedicated to making America safe for Black and Brown people. Seebeyondmyskin.org
The Fallser Club – an innovative community space for everyone, located in East Falls Philadelphia. Eastfalls.com
The Local paper – a free monthly paper exploring Philly through a local lens, with a focus on the people. Revivelocalpaper.com
Germantown Radio/92.9FM — Northwest Philly’s community radio station. Gtownradio.com
🎦🍿🌟PHILA PREMIERE: Reimagining Safety 🌟🍿🎦
Wednesday, November 15, 2023 (6:00 – 9:30)
The Fallser Club, 3721 Midvale Ave, East Falls
RSVP here to guarantee your seat and pizza! 😋🍕
This event has passed, please see the Follow Up page with pics, videos, links and more information about local efforts happening right now to re-think and re-invent public safety.
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