ReelBob: ‘Do Not Resist’ (Indy Film Festival)
By Bob Bloom
“Do Not Resist” is a distressing and disturbing documentary that looks at the growing militarization of local law enforcement agencies across the nation.
The movie uses the disturbances in Ferguson, Mo., after the killing of Michael Brown, a black man, as the jumping off point to show how police and sheriff’s departments are collecting military-grade weapons and armored vehicles and using these tools in what used to be considered routine matters, such as serving warrants or making drug busts.
The undercurrent of the film is the racial divide prevalent across the nation. Most of the officers depicted in the film are white, while most of the victims and suspects are black.
Footage shows police officers using teargas to disperse peaceful demonstrators in Ferguson because they are still on the streets after a curfew has been ordered.
At times, Ferguson looks like an occupied city as police in heavy, military gear with automatic weapons sit atop armored vehicles and ominously watch protesters march by.
Adding to the problem is the readily available arsenal of leftover U.S. government stockpiles that are being offered — some for free — to local agencies, whether they need it or not.
One sequence shows the city council of Concord, N.H., which has had two killings in more than a decade voting to accept an MRAP military vehicle.
The movie shows the chilling effect these actions by law enforcement agencies have on average citizens, who question the necessity for such overreaching firepower, and whose concerns are ignored and brushed aside by local government officials simply because they can get these lethal toys for free.
One thing this documentary hints at, is that the United States is slowly becoming a militarized police state and that citizens are powerless to do anything about it.
And while many local officials offer various rationales for accepting such firepower, many former military officers and leaders question the necessity for such arsenals to be stockpiled for possible use against their own citizens.
Local police chiefs and sheriffs say these vehicles and weapons save lives when used in volatile situations such as serving warrants or making drug arrests.
They also claim they are needed in case of a terrorist incident, which, they admit, is rather unlikely.
This is more a situation of boys wanting to play with new and more deadly shiny toys.
“Do Not Resist” will sadden you, as it depicts how far the gap between those sworn to serve and protect and those whom they claim to be protecting has widened.
It is a movie that will — and should — force you to ask questions of your local officials as well as think about what kind of law enforcement you want having your back.
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.
DO NOT RESIST
3 stars out of 4
Playing at the Indy Film Festival