August 16, 2017 / 10:47 PM / 2 years ago

'Whose Streets?' spotlights diverging narratives of Ferguson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - While America confronts the aftermath of protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, the story behind an incident that contributed to racial tensions in the United States is the subject of the newly released documentary “Whose Streets?”

The documentary, now in U.S. theaters, uses cell phone and camera footage from people in the streets to chronicle the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white police officer shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

The filmmakers, Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis, said “Whose Streets?” aimed to present a different perspective of the protests than what was seen in mainstream media.

“We’d be in the streets, things would play out one way and we’d turn on the television and see a story that was in direct contradiction from what we experienced,” Folayan said in an interview. “This film is our attempt to try and set the record straight on those nights.”

The protests led to weeks of unrest and sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The common narrative that was constantly perpetuated throughout the media was that people were irrational, angry, violent ... Just outright despicable people. They just mobbed the streets to destroy their own neighborhoods, and that was not the case whatsoever,” Davis said.

“I saw a lot of love and basing their decisions on love and love for themselves and the people around them.”

The film is in theaters at a time when tensions in the United States are running high after white nationalists clashed with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend over removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured in the Virginia college town when a man ran his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Folayan and Davis, who spoke to Reuters before the Charlottesville demonstrations, said they hoped their film would inspire young people in America to mobilize a “new generation of activism.”

“I think that a lot of times we can be very doom and gloom and forget there are people coming behind us who are going to be smarter than us, more capable than us and understand things about the world that we don’t understand,” Folayan said.

Reporting by Reuters Television; writing by Piya Sinha-Roy

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