Whose Streets? is a 2017 documentary about the Ferguson uprising following the death of Michael Brown. The film gives a voice to the activists and the inhabitants of Ferguson, and it presents an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising.
On the 9th of August 2014, an unarmed Black teenager, Michael Brown, was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. He was left lying in the street for almost four hours, covered by a white sheet. This marked a breaking point for the residents of Ferguson: grief, long-standing racial tensions, and renewed anger brought residents together to hold vigil and protest this tragedy. However, their protests, peaceful at first, were met by a police force armed with rubber bullets, tear gas, shields, and tanks. From there on, the conflict escalated.
The film gives a strong voice to the local residents and activists on the front line fighting to end police brutality, and it counterbalances the narrative of looting and violence that was repeated several times in the news media. The film manages well to show the anger and sense of outrage that the heavy-handed police response provoked, and it offers a brutal assessment of the treatment of Black people by police in the United States.
After you have watched the film, go through the questions that you find below. You will also find links to relevant texts and tasks in 'Related Content' at the bottom of the page.
How would you describe the social conditions in Ferguson? Why is this relevant to understanding the uprising?
What is your impression of the people of Ferguson and their sense of community?
How did the mainstream media portray the conflict? Was the information they presented correct and unbiased? In your opinion, what is the role of the mainstream media in situations like these?
What role did social media play in bringing out information from Ferguson? Do you think the information presented on social media was correct and unbiased? How can social media be an effective channel for activism?
How would you describe the actions of the police? Can their actions in any way be defended? Do you understand why they acted as they did?
At the time of the Michael Brown killing, 60% of the Ferguson residents were Black. The police chief and the mayor were both white and only three of Ferguson's 53 police officers were Black. Why is this relevant?
How did you react to the ABC news interview with Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Michael Brown?
The killing of Michael Brown and the Ferguson uprising happened during Barack Obama's presidency. Still, one of the Ferguson residents states that "I am still waiting for a Black president". Why do you think he says that?
In your view, how can the American people bring these conflicts to an end? How can a society build cross-racial empathy, communal responsibility, and a shared commitment to equality?