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Ava DuVernay launches initiative to highlight police brutality

“These are people who work for us,” she said. “They have broken the law, they have broken their oath and we should be able to talk about that.”

Ava DuVernay Getty Images

Director Ava DuVernay has dedicated her career to pushing the envelope by sharing stories about racism and prejudice in film with documentaries such as When They See Us and 13th. Following the death of George Floyd, she is now planning to finance new stories about police brutality through her latest initiative, the Law Enforcement Accountability Project (LEAP).

According to The Washington Post, LEAP will fund 25 short-term projects including poetry, photography, dance, sculpture, theater, music, film and literature, over the next two years. They will have an initial budget of $3 million from contributors including Ryan Murphy and the Ford Foundation. LEAP’s mission is to “disrupt the code of silence that exists around police aggression and misconduct.”

“I’m used to watching racist, violent images,” DuVernay said. “So, why did George Floyd’s final moments devastate me like it did? I realized that it was because this time the cop isn’t hidden behind a body cam or distorted by grainy surveillance video. This time, I can see the cop’s face.”

She continued, “I started to realize how rare that is. And that led me to think, ‘How many of these police officers do we never see?’ They disappear, end up leaving town and show up in another department. Their names are said, but it’s never amplified and it’s kind of like this group contract. Somehow, we, as American citizens, have agreed to not speak their names. I do not agree to that anymore.”

“This is a broken system, some people will say,” the Selma director said. “I will say it was built this way. And we, as taxpayers who pay these people’s salaries, should at least be able to speak their names. Why have we agreed not to mention them? It’s much different than a serial killer or a school shooter. These are people who work for us. They have broken the law, they have broken their oath and we should be able to talk about that.”

DuVernay isn’t ready to disclose specific projects she is working on yet, but she says that the first finished piece from LEAP will be out in August.

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