'Whose Streets?' Asks What Really Happened In The Ferguson Protests

Filmmakers who witnessed the Ferguson protests firsthand discuss what the coverage of it got wrong.
Posted at 10:06 PM, Apr 05, 2017

"That was what brought me to Ferguson in the first place. I was seeing something play out in the media that I knew was not totally true," Sabaah Folayan said.

Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis co-directed "Whose Streets?" — a documentary about what really happened after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.

"I knew intuitively that there was something else there, and that's what brought me to Ferguson. It was really important to me and to Damon not only that we tell the story of what did happen, but that we let people know that the narrative they were initially given was not the whole story," Folayan said.

They said they wanted the film to correct the media narrative about Ferguson and some of its protesters.

"There's an important line in the film where Kayla says, 'We don't do this because we hate the police; we do this because we love each other,'" Folayan said.

"Another big misconception about Ferguson, about black people in general, is that we're not patriots. I think we're some of the most patriotic people that are here, because we have had to," Folayan said.

"I think a lot of people saw that anger and saw those young people and saw that upside down flag and said, 'Those are people who don't love America.' Well, no — it's actually the opposite. When you love someone, you hold them accountable to be their best self," Folayan said.

"Whose Streets?" explores the fraught relationship communities of color have with the police and why building trust can be so difficult. 

"This is coming from someone related to law enforcement. I personally don't know how I could ever trust the institution of police. Not the people in uniform — human beings are one thing — but the institution of policing, because of lived experience," Davis said.

Davis says there's a chance that change can happen and communities like Ferguson can start to heal in the future.

"Maybe if we start now, there will be a generation of children that get to grow up in a world where they actually trust police," Davis said

The directors want their film to inspire changes in attitudes and activism.

"I want them to walk out saying, 'I'm ready to act,'" Folayan said. 

"I want them to see the majesty and glory of everyday black people. I want them to see people now — not protesters, not rioters, not basketball players. People. I see people now. That would be great," Davis said.