7 Best Movies About Police Brutality That You Should Watching Update 04/2024

Movies About Police Brutality

Black-produced documentaries about police violence and systemic racism are included in this list. You should watch and absorb these films because they depict what it’s like to be a Black person in a country that’s built from the inside out to be hostile to you.

Protests have taken place in all 50 states of the United States and 50 nations around the world since the May 25, 2020, killing of George Floyd by police. As a society created by slaves on stolen property, the United States has sanctioned unchecked police brutality for far too long. Since May 25, the stories of slain black individuals and recordings of police violence at anti-police brutality protests have been widely circulated.

In the past, there have been demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter. Officers have deployed tear gas and rubber bullets to quell the disturbances. Despite what we’re witnessing on the news and in our own communities, it’s nothing new. Corruption, injustice, and racism in the criminal justice system have sparked a wave of protests and demonstrations by people of color in America, putting COVID concerns to one side.

This is a good time for white folks to pay attention. We must pay attention to and learn from the experiences of people of color. We must examine our privilege and see how it has protected us from the daily horrors that Black people face. There is a need for white people to speak out against police brutality and the oppressive system in the United States. However, we must also learn to truly hear what other people have to say about how things work in this nation and how they differ from how things work for white people.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt that movies have the capacity to make a positive impact on society by examining issues that most people find difficult to broach. Movies can get the ball rolling and provide a springboard for further discussion.

Black-produced documentaries about police violence and systemic racism are included in this list. You should watch and absorb these films because they depict what it’s like to be a Black person in a country that’s built from the inside out to be hostile to you.

1 | Do the Right Thing (1989) | Directed by Spike Lee

Do the Right Thing (1989)

This documentary explores the rising racial tensions in one Brooklyn enclave. This film’s strength lies in its depiction of the banality of life in this area, as well as the white characters’ casual expressions of prejudice. Racism is shown to be so pervasive in the lives of people of color that it can be taken for granted.

Filmmaker Spike Lee has orchestrated an enjoyable picture filled with humorous back and forth and amusing glimpses into the lives of everyday people. Filmmaker who can inject humor into even the most serious of subject matter. The humor never takes away from the seriousness of the subject matter; rather, it serves to amplify it and make it more bearable through its inclusion. This is a recurring theme in Spike Lee’s films, and it’s an aspect of his style that I admire.

The film ends with the police shooting and killing Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn). As a result, the pizzeria Mookie (Lee) works at is demolished by the outpouring of rage and grief from his coworkers. After the officers who were recorded on camera severely assaulting Rodney King were found not guilty just three years after the film’s publication, riots broke out. According to Incluvie writer Andrew Stilson in an in-depth examination, Do the Right Thing is tragically applicable to what we’re experiencing today.

2 | Fruitvale Station (2013) | Directed by Ryan Coogler

I have never seen a film on police brutality that has affected me as deeply as Fruitvale Station. Unlike some of the other films on this list, Fruitvale Station focuses solely on the life of Oscar, a black man who was shot and killed by police. Oscar’s tale is depicted in the film, beginning with the time when Officer Caruso (Kevin Durand) decides to kill him.

Despite being Ryan Coogler’s (Creed, Black Panther) first feature-length directorial effort, I believe this is still his finest work. It’s so raw and real, depicting the life of a man who knew love and lost it, a man who abandoned a wife and child because a police officer believed he posed an imminent threat, and who was shot and killed for no other reason than to ring in the new year.

One of Fruitvale Station’s greatest strengths is its demonstration of the ability of an ordinary act performed by a white person to bring about the death penalty for a Black person. It shows how someone who was just going about their day-to-day routine and was not a threat to anyone can yet be killed. At Fruitvale Station, we are reminded of the injustice and lack of accountability that characterize American life.

3 | Selma (2013)| Directed by Ava DuVernay

Selma (2013)

Selma is one of the most uplifting films on this list, if not the most. In spite of some stomach-churning sequences, it’s a picture about optimism and resilience. Isn’t Selma about rising up and doing the right thing no matter what the law says, no matter what other people say, no matter what your friends say? All that matters in Selma is that you know what is right and fight for it no matter what. That’s what the film’s about.

A truly inspirational figure, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. should serve as a role model for those who want to use protest and advocacy as a vehicle for social change. Selma exemplifies King’s strength, spirit, and steadfastness in the face of adversity. People have gone to great pains to defame, vilify, and ridicule him. It’s worth noting that much of what was said to him and others marching with him is still being said about the Black Lives Matter movement today.

When it comes to transformation, Selma serves as a reminder of exactly how difficult it may be. This is just how things are,” has been a common justification for the status quo throughout human history. “Nothing will ever change.” People like Martin Luther King, Jr. have repeatedly resisted this worldview and ushered in a new era. Selma shows us how important it is to keep fighting even when it seems hopeless, no matter how far we are from full equality.

4 | Straight Outta Compton (2015) | Directed by F. Gary Gray

Straight Outta Compton stands apart from the rest of the films on this list due to its unique subject matter and style. A musical biopic of N.W.A.’s rise to popularity is featured in this film. In addition, it deals with police violence so intimately. In Compton, these youngsters were exposed to police brutality on a daily basis. They saw their family, friends, and neighbors abused, tortured, and killed by the cops. “Our work is a reflection of our reality,” they say in the film.

Everything about the music they made, including the song “F**k Tha Police,” was shaped by the daily struggles they face solely as a result of their skin tone. In the movie, N.W.A. had an interaction with the police while they are just standing outside of their recording studio, and it is one of the most striking scenes. Instead of continuing to record, they’re having a conversation with one another. The police arrive and order everyone on the ground. When their white manager Jerry (Paul Giamatti) confronts the police outside, things look bleak. “F**k Tha Police” is the song Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) writes in response to this.

It’s one of the best scenes in the entire film when the cops inform N.W.A that they can’t play “F**k Tha Police” at a gig in Detroit, but N.W.A defies them and plays it anyway. The stage is stormed by uniformed and undercover cops who apprehend the suspects. What an incredible sight it is to see N.W.A. exercising their First Amendment rights and unleashing rage against a system that has oppressed them their whole lives.

5 | I Am Not Your Negro (2016)| Directed by Raoul Peck

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
For the most part, I Am Not Your Negro isn’t a documentary at all, but rather an extension and completion of Baldwin’s work through historical material, movie clip narration, and other non-traditional means. Baldwin’s sentiments regarding racial inequity in the United States are expressed in a very intimate way.

In the absence of a strict documentary mandate, it has the freedom to go where and do what it wants. It devotes a significant portion of its time to examining how African-Americans have been portrayed in films throughout history and contrasting it with the current state of affairs. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and school integration video are shown side-by-side in the film.

When you look at the masses of segregationists with their white power signs, the protests and rioting over integration, the image of a Black woman lying on the ground with a cop crushing his knee into her neck, you realize we haven’t really progressed much. They might be used now, just as easily as Baldwin used them to characterize the world he lives in. That’s the most terrifying and horrible element of it all.

6 | 13th (2016) | Directed by Ava DuVernay

The prison system in the United States is the primary focus of 13th. As slavery was abolished in the 13th Amendment, the police were able to arrest large numbers of Black individuals because of a loophole in the law. This documentary sheds light on how the War on Drugs has been used as a political weapon (something I discuss further in my review for Have a Good Trip). Insightful as it is distressing to consider how the war on drugs or crime has been utilized by Presidents Nixon, Regan, Clinton, and Bush to jail up disproportionate numbers of Black people in the country.

The film’s director, Ava DuVernay, does an excellent job of laying out a compelling story. Despite the fact that she jumps about from one topic and issue to another, she manages to convey this story in a logical manner. The hallmark of a well-crafted documentary is that it returns to its central theme at the end of each side story.

You should see this film if you haven’t already, because it will open your eyes to the fact that the United States has a for-profit prison system that disproportionately imprisons Black people, even for very minor infractions.

7 | BlacKkKlansman (2018)| Directed by Spike Lee

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Colorado Springs police officer Ron Stallworth infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan with the help of a Jewish surrogate, who eventually becomes its leader, despite his race. Based on real-life experiences.

Finally, Spike Lee has won an Oscar for “Best Adapted Screenplay” for his film BlacKkKlansman, which is a terrific film. The film follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first African-American officer in the Colorado Springs Police Department. When Patrice (Laura Harrier) learns that Ron is a cop, he is forced to confront his own moral ambiguity. On the other hand, Patrice argues that it is impossible to reform the corrupt system, and that it needs to be toppled.

Although the film doesn’t focus on police violence, it does provide a glimpse into the tensions that exist when Ron initially joins the force. The scene where Ron and a few other cops discuss the officer who pulled Patrice over and threatened her life while sexually assaulting her is quite strong and moving. This officer, according to the police, killed a Black teenager a few years ago, so everyone knew he was a jerk. For good or ill, the cops say, they’re all in this together, and you don’t turn your back on your family.

BlacKkKlansman, directed by Spike Lee and featuring footage from the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right protest, has all the wit and panache you’d expect from a Lee film. To honor the memory of Heather Heyer, the film is dedicated to the marching Nazis who incited violence, leading to her murder.

When you’re listening and learning, it’s important to act as well. To better yourself and others, look at many sources. Attend rallies and protests to spread the word. Don’t be afraid to get your name out there. Advocate for action from your elected leaders. Give to organizations and groups on the ground that are aiding people and mobilizing activists if you have the means to do so.

Please consider making a donation to the following Minnesota-based non-profits. We need as much support as we can get in the same location where George Floyd was murdered to ensure that this never happens again. In addition, you may want to look into other organizations in your region that are actively involved in the defense of the rights of people of color.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund seeks funds to cover the costs of bail and immigration bonds for people unable to do so, in an effort to put an end to unfair, coercive, and oppressive practices in the criminal justice system throughout the state.

With the help of community members and city council members, Reclaim the Block in Minneapolis is redistributing funds currently allocated to the police department in order to better serve the needs of the city’s residents.

Youth ages 16-24 in Hennepin County, Minnesota, are supported by Avenues for Youth. As a result, Avenues empowers young people to find their path out of homelessness by providing a stable home, building trusting relationships, and navigating the youth’s educational, career and health and wellness and housing goals. Regardless of how long a young person needs a place to stay, Avenues is there for them.

The work of Black Visions Collective is based on healing and transformative justice ideas, as well as intentional development of the organization’s fundamental “DNA” to ensure its long-term viability.