“I can’t breathe.”
These were the last words spoken by Eric Garner, a Black man strangled and killed by police in July of 2014. These words became a rallying cry among protesters, and Garner’s death was one of many killings that ignited a larger conversation about police brutality in America.
On the night of Garner’s death, movie producer and director Deirdre Fishel was only several blocks away shooting a film. Completely shook by the violence, Fishel reached out to a friend, a woman police officer, and asked her a simple question: “Could this have happened if you were there?”
Her short answer: No. “It’s all about how the situation was escalated,” The woman officer told Fishel. “It’s just basic de-escalation training.”
Fishel told Ms.: “I started thinking about this notion that nobody was talking about: What could women bring to policing?”
Turns out: a whole lot.
Fishel picks up this conversation in a new film called Women in Blue. Following three female police officers—Cmdr. Melissa Chiodo, the first woman head of Special Crimes; Sgt. Alice White, who leads procedural justice trainings; and rookie Officer Erin Grabosky, who works the night patrol—Women in Blue charts their progress and efforts to remake the department to become more inclusive. Fishel’s film captures the frustrations and hopes of Chiodo, White and Grabosky, who all struggle in different ways with the challenges of being a woman in a predominantly and traditionally male profession.
Women in Blue Screening and Panel: February 4, at 4:00 p.m. PT / 7:00 p.m. ET
Join Ms. and several other screening partners for an exclusive viewing of the Women in Blue documentary on Thursday, February 4 at 4:00 p.m PT / 7:00 p.m. ET. (Register here.)
Stick around after the film for a live Q&A discussion, which will include two women featured in the film, Chief Melissa Chiodo of the Inver Grove Heights Police Department; and Catherine Johnson, department director of corrections for Hennepin County; as well as Ganesha Martin, the chief of Baltimore’s Department of Justice Compliance, Accountability and External Affairs Division, who has served in several positions in Baltimore City government overseeing collaborative criminal justice efforts.
Watch the trailer below:
What to Expect from Women in Blue
During her tenure, Minneapolis Police Department Chief Janée Harteau, the department’s first female chief, worked to remake the MPD by getting rid of corrupt police officers, re-training the rest, and demanding accountability. As part of her reform efforts, she also recruited more women and promoted them into leadership at every level.
But when the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman by a police officer stuns the city, Chief Harteau is forced to resign. Once appointed, the new male chief promoted only men to his top brass, threatening the gains in women represented on the force. With a city already on edge over police misconduct, the women of the MPD were forced to fight for gender equity—convinced that it’s one key to reducing police violence.
How will I access the screening?
The screening will occur on the OVEE website. Once you register we will automatically send you a link to access the streaming. This link will be sent a couple of days prior the event.
What device can I use to watch the live stream?
A computer or large screen device that you use to watch movies is ideal. As long as your device is able to stream video from the internet you are all set. A tablet or phone that can stream video will also work.
This event is made possible by the following screening partners:
- Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform
- Criminal Defense Section of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice
- The Deason Center
- Ms. magazine, published by Feminist Majority Foundation
- International Association of Women Police
- The National Women’s Health Network
- Ohio Organizing Collaborative
- Oklahoma Women’s Coalition
- The Pretrial Justice Institute
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