Film – A Force For Change
posted by: Alison Leslie
published: 14th March 2006
Updates listed at the foot of this item
Forward: Tippa Naphtali
4WardEver Campaign UK
July 2005 marked 5 years since the release of INJUSTICE. The film has continued to succeed despite the attempts by the police to suppress it. A spokesperson for filmmakers, Migrant Media, said; “We owe this success through the continued practical, political and spiritual support that many people have given us.”
The following was written by Ken at our request, and we will continue to support this important film through our online services and community events.
Ken Fero – Migrant Media
Co-director of INJUSTICE
Between 1969 and 1999 over 1,000 people died in police custody in England. No police officer to date has ever been convicted for any of these deaths. The deaths continue and so does the cover-up. Injustice is the story of the struggles for justice by the families of some of those killed by the police.
Injustice has been seen by thousands of people in many corners of the globe. Millions more have heard of the film and its basic message – that there are human rights abuses perpetuated by police in the UK.
On the 6th July 2001 the premier opening of Injustice at the Metro Cinema in London was halted dramatically when two police officers issued last minute legal threats to the cinema owners. News spread about the police action and the ensuing uproar in the cinema. An hour later we were condemning the police action on the BBC Evening News, with a simple message – we would not let the police kill our film.
Five days later, on the 11th July a second attempt to show the film at Conway Hall, a place renowned for supporting freedom speech, was met by more sabre rattling from the police. After it became clear that the manger of Conway Hall was going to cancel the screening a cry from the audience rang out – “Show the film”.
The audience took control of the venue; barricaded the doors and projected the film themselves. This action catapulted the story of the attempts to censor the film into the daily newspapers.
Following this screening, the police continued to harass venues that tried to show the film. Publicity increased with every attempt that they made. What the film did was to put a heart and soul to the shocking figure of 1000 deaths through following the struggles for justice of a few families.
It was this struggle that the police wanted to silence. Throughout this period the families of those killed by the police stood by us and we travelled the country showing the film and talking about the struggle for justice.
In this fight we were helped by many people – workers, students, lecturers, trade unionists, religious leaders, and anarchists. Every screening was fought for and many won only because of the support of these people. Injustice began to mobilize people to take a stand against police oppression.
The threats by the police officers continued. We showed Injustice to eight police officers who had been involved in the deaths featured in the film and then wrote to them and made it clear that we would go to court to defend the film. If they went forward with a libel trial they would have to stand in court on account. We have not heard from them since.
By late summer news coverage of the attempts by the police to get the film banned had included women’s life style magazine, film periodicals mainstream news and CNN. The Police Federation were taken aback by the favourable press reaction to the film and our struggle to show it.
The Police Federation demanded that we make cuts to the film. We refused because we would not censor the voices of the families, and we were also defending the artistic integrity of the film. The Federation went silent.
At the Black Filmmakers International Film Festival, in London on the 10th September 2001 the Curzon Cinema agreed to go ahead with a public screening. Tension was high as the cinema waited for the usual police threat. It never came. The curse of the Police Federation was finally broken.
By September 2001 Injustice began to be shown in many renowned Film Festivals and has gone from strength to strength. The international tour of the film also continued.