“The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land.” – W.E.B. Du Bois
Middle Men incorporates the testimonies of individuals on both sides of the law while discussing data driven policing, policies, and prisons to explore how laws are enforced in underserved communities and the aftermath of that interaction.
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Solving crime should be about helping to keep a community safe. Innovative technologies should be good for all, right? Who doesn’t want police to have the best equipment necessary to do their jobs properly? But, in the heart of the police Mecca of New York, technologies are being misused for the purpose of a numbers game. Communities already disenfranchised by a history of racial inequality or poverty are not only targets but on the receiving end of frequent enforcement that jeopardize their lives. Policies of Stop and Frisk, 250’s and Broken Windows, Low Level Non-Violent offenses are encouraged as a way to reduce crime. Though great in theory, the fact is both are ineffective, yet promoted to patrol officers as a sure fire way for crime reduction, but in reality whistleblowers have explained these are ways to meet their performance goals also known as quotas. Issues involving violent, property crime and quality of life issues all have their place in the virtually unheard of Compstat analytics and meetings, introduced by former Police Commissioner William Bratton in 1994, then modified to relentlessly target Quality of Life Crimes by Giuliani in 1995.
With United States imprisoning about 2.4 million people in Federal and State Prisons and over 11 million people cycling through local jails in 2015, prisons become likely money makers for all parties involved. Dollars for bodies, pressured officers, high recidivism, depleting government funding for community development, and historical racism are elements used for capitalistic development. Mass incarceration, policing, law enforcement technology, and the criminal justice system are just industries for investors to choose from.
Are law enforcement agencies wrong allowing profit incentives and promotions to infiltrate their departments? What has this type of policing done to underserved areas and will they even have an opportunity to recover from this activity? Are the police moving toward militarization? What will happen to all the technology, equipment, people, and real time centers when crime rates completely drop as they have been?
In Middle Men we explore questions like these and more while holding officers as accountable as powerful intermediaries we the people of the United States has grown accustomed to them being. They are the holders our freedom, human rights, and privacy.
Let us begin:
Gwen, Kadi, Nicholas, Hawa, and William all continue to live with the fact that they are likely to never receive justice for the death of their child killed by the NYPD. If their children would have been Caucasian or from an affluent community the likely hood of their fateful encounter would have been slim. The ages of theirchildren range from 13 to 43, all African American, each from different boroughs in New York for a total of 100 shots and 1 banned chokehold. Their interviews help to paint a picture of the US criminal justice system. The spirits of their children become the powerful inspiration for reform. Supporting characters are retired officers Matt Fogg, Daniel Model, Baron Marquis, and Michael Bell all of which open up to sharing their experiences about the life on the force, racism, and factors as to why police killings are not only occurring but going unpunished…