On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
One of the reasons that young black men were so angry about this, because they all see themselves as a Michael Brown. It could have been them.
His death unleashed an anger that had been building for decades at a system the community in Ferguson says is stacked against them from birth – decades of feeling marginalised and targeted by law enforcement for simply being African-American.
In the weeks following the shooting, the militarised police response to the street protests by local black communities made national headlines. And it raised questions about policing and race in the US.
“This is the new civil rights movement … and the ground zero is policing of black communities. There is no question about it. People are drawing connections that we drew 50 years ago in the civil rights movement, that this is a societal problem. This is not just a police department problem, and it’s not just a county problem … this is a societal problem because it happens all over the country, it happens constantly,” says Vince Warren, the director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Fault Lines travels back to Ferguson, Missouri, to investigate why the relationship between the police and local black communities is fraught with distrust, and if those sworn to protect operate with impunity.
Editor’s note: This film was first braodcast on Al Jazeera English in December 2014.