Audio recordings from the scenes of fatal shootings of black men provide the video’s soundtrack.
The Guardian reports that as of July 2016, at least 194 black people had been killed by United States police. Racial profiling and police brutality continue to haunt America, and a haunting new PSA seeks to drive home the magnitude of the problem.
“Against the Wall,” a compelling short film, opens our eyes to just how prominent an issue police brutality and racial profiling continue to be. Starring Michael B. Jordan, Danny Glover, Michael K. Williams and Sophia Dawson, the chilling video shows what it’s like to be held at gunpoint, while real-life audio of the killings of black men plays in the background.
The audio includes the infamous 911 call from George Zimmerman before he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. “There’s a real suspicious guy,” we hear Zimmerman say, while Jordan looks directly into the camera, pressed up against a wall. “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. He’s a black male.”
While more celebrities and political activists like Van Jones are held down against the wall, we continue to hear snippets from police radio and interviews. One of the interviews features Valerie Castile, whose son Philando Castile was fatally shot by a police officer in Minnesota. “We’re being hunted, every day,” she says. “It’s a silent war against African-American people as a whole. We’re never free.”
The film’s producer Harry Belafonte acknowledges that people have been “desensitized” to the killings of black men because we hear about them in the news so often. “The constant vilification of people of color is not new to the American psyche,” Belafonte said. “Somehow cell phone video, dash cam video and news media flashing before our very eyes, hour after hour, the murder and victimization of black and brown bodies has desensitized us.”
In partnership with social justice organization Sankofa.org, which Belafonte founded, the actor and singer wanted to use the power of celebrities to “re-sensitize the community” using familiar faces. By using real-life audio, we’re confronted with the reality of the fate met by these victims, who are often innocent.
Directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz directed the actors “to imagine what it would be like to be taken against your will and forced to reduce yourself; your very humanity, in order to pacify the police?—?who regardless may take your life even if you stayed perfectly still, with your hands against the wall.”
We’ve heard powerful voices in the music industry, like Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé and Vic Mensa, speak out on the Black Lives Matter movement—and now, with this short film, we’re one step closer to understanding why it’s critical to speak out on issues like this.
“The artistic community is responding to the plight of our disenfranchised,” Belafonte said. “We are shining a light and calling out to all to take a look, listen and feel within your heart to take action.”