Vital Cop Doc ‘Do Not Resist’ Tracks the Militarization of American Police


Do Not Resist is an order to the viewer: watch. Videos in newsfeeds depicting the murder of black men by police open automatically without warning on our screens all the time, forcing new waves of trauma on black folks and other people of color.

This film changes the perspective, offering on-the-ground footage of protests, police-academy training, and interviews with people involved in both. Why does our society so often discount the stories of black people who face danger from the police? The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has just made a ruling declaring that it is reasonable for black men to flee police officers, so great is the risk. In this new and vital documentary, Craig Atkinson interrogates what is happening in American police departments and why cops’ presence on the streets looks more and more like war.

There’s no need for commentary in the film when footage from protests in Ferguson, Missouri, immediately following Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a police officer, shows squads of cops in riot gear, holsters on their hips, facing down young black men wearing shirts reading “STOP KILLING US.”

Why do police act this way? What is the culture creating this? At local and national levels, Atkinson investigates. His visit to a police academy, where officers in training are told that the riskiness of their day jobs guarantees great sex back home, illuminates the objectification, detachment, and selfish brutality of American police culture — and why it might be so seductive. Atkinson focuses on the growing resistance to it; we must, too.

Do Not Resist

Directed by Craig Atkinson

Distributed by Vanish Films

Now Playing, Film Forum