Movies and series to understand the riots in the United States

We recommend these to expand your understanding of the topic

Frame from the series 'When They See Us'.

Different series and productions portray the police violence that has been experienced and is currently being lived in the United States. / Photo: youtube.com/Netflix

LatinamericanPost| Juliana Rodriguez Pabón

Listen to this article

Leer en español: Películas y series para entender las revueltas en Estados Unidos

Much has been said in the media about the George Floyd case in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is an African American man murdered by a white police officer under the guise of being a suspect in a case of using counterfeit money. The event was recorded in a 10-minute video that went viral, in which Floyd begs for his life and says "I can't breath" while the Minneapolis police officer chokes him with the weight of his body. This case of racially motivated police violence, making it a hate crime, joins many others this year in the United States, which has sparked protests and riots around the world.

This phenomenon, however, is nothing new. Neither police violence, nor racism in the United States, nor the protests turned into revolts by the rage of this community. That is why we bring this list of audiovisual content so that you can understand this phenomenon in its complexity beyond what is happening right now. 


Do the right thing, Spike Lee movie (1989)

This movie takes place on a hot summer day in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York. Throughout the film we see the tension between races in the neighborhood with a subtle comedy tone, Latin music fights with black hip hop, it also fights with the Italian pizzeria, etc. The film lightens this tension with its comical tone , but in the end it leaves us with a tension that does not resolve, because we will see in its last scenes the nature and legitimacy of the rage of some, and how this puts them all against everyone except against those in power. Propositional and complex in form and content, Do the Right Thing looks at the rage we see today on the streets of Minneapolis and around the world, and, of course, wonders why it's the right thing.


Amendment XIII, Netflix documentary directed by Ava DuVernay (2016)

This documentary not only reveals scandalous truth like many others on Netflix. The thirteenth amendment is a journey through the history of the black community in the United States that, in addition to being informative, analyzes how the phenomenon of slavery has been transformed through the centuries. It demonstrates with archival images, interviews with academics, and a rigorous study of United States history and current phenomena that slavery was in no way abolished but rather transformed and adapted to the current forms of capitalism. Excellent history class but also an excellent analysis of the prison phenomenon of today in the United States and discriminatory police violence.

Also read: All about Douglas, the new Hannah Gadsby show


When they see us, Netflix miniseries directed by Ava DuVenay (2019)

Ava DuVernay, director of the film Selma, who should also be on this list, is undoubtedly one of the most important producers and audiovisual directors when it comes to content that reflects on the black history of the United States. This time it's a four-episode miniseries that revolves around the Central Park brokerage case in 1989 (oddly the same year that Spike Lee debuts Do the right thing) and the five young black men who were falsely accused of having raped and murdered a white woman in Central Park. While everything is dramatized, this miniseries carefully follows the events surrounding the case and the discrimination these young people were subjected to in order to facilitate the work of the police and protect their reputation. Heartbreaking and shocking.


LA 92, National Geographic documentary directed by Daniel Lindsay and TJ Martin (2017)

Perhaps one of the most mediatic and closest antecedents to the George Floyd case is that of Rodney King, a black taxi driver beaten and killed by white police officers, whose death was also recorded in a video in which several policemen were seen hitting him with their batons without any mercy or due process. This video, also gone viral like Floyd's, even though it happened before the Internet spike, unleashed the fury of the black community in Los Angeles, which went out to protest in the streets and caused riots during that year and the following year, protesting the unfair verdict that dictated that the policemen were innocent. This documentary revisits and collects unpublished and unedited archive footage to take a fresh look at the 1992 Rodney King trial, whose verdict unleashed the fury of Los Angeles residents. Although it is a National Geographic documentary, it is also available on Netflix.