Sponsored by the Department of Criminology and Justice Studies.
Down a Dark Stairwell follows the aftermath of an officer involved shooting. When a Chinese American police officer kills an innocent and unarmed Black man in a darkened stairwell in New York City, it sparks unrest in two historically marginalized communities. The Black community wants justice for this act of police violence, and the Chinese American community, while sympathetic, views the conviction of this officer as a racially biased scapegoat. The documentary highlights a history of marginalization, institutional brutality, and an uneven legal system.
Introduction from the Down a Dark Stairwell website:
Down a Dark Stairwell chronicles the tragic shooting in Brooklyn of Akai Gurley, an innocent Black man, and the trial of the Chinese American police officer, Peter Liang, who pulled the trigger, casting a powerful light on the experiences of two marginalized communities thrust into an uneven criminal justice system together.
With America reeling at the time from the killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, and activists nationwide calling for police reform, Gurley’s death further inflamed the residents of New York City. Cries of police brutality rang out in protest over a pronounced pattern of police officers, mostly white, avoiding criminal prosecution. Officer Liang, however, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter, making him the first NYPD officer in over a decade to hear a guilty verdict in such a case. This triggered a fresh wave of debate, including protests across New York City in support of Liang, with activists speaking out against the unjust treatment of Asian Americans and racial imbalances in the criminal justice system, calling into question whether his conviction was offered up in part to quell larger national unrest.
Filmed as these events unfolded, and featuring interviews with Akai Gurley’s family and loved ones, local community members, and activists and organizers within the Asian American and African American communities, Down a Dark Stairwell offers a gripping, intimate look at the painful aftermath of Gurley’s death.
Zoom ID: 882 6303 1815
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