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Documentary Review: “Traffic Stop” (2017) ★★



© HBO

Police officers are an essential force to fight against criminals and that fact cannot be denied. They must be supported through our co-operation as citizens, for instance, avoiding committing a crime of any kind. However, there are situations where a police officer abuses his/her power and wants to show their superiority by crossing a line they would have put us in jail if we were the one who committed it. The documentary “Traffic Stop”, directed by Kate Davis, shows one example of why we should be really careful of what we do on the streets, because if we are stopped by an officer who has an issue with anger, or even worse, is racist, we can be in trouble that can end in two ways – whichever it is, it cannot bring satisfaction.

Due to a minor traffic violation, an officer, in this case a white, pulls over African-American Breaion King’s car and eventually arrests her. But it is not the fact of her arrest but what happens before which is the most damning moment. The officer becomes way too violent and uses his power on a woman who could barely do anything against him. The film offers a look into who Breaion King is, her way of coping after the incident, her belief, and what she stands for.

There are a lot of issues with “Traffic Stop”, and one of them is the wrong message being sent to society. The fact that the officer was wrong is indisputable, but through his dash cam footage, and simply judging by his monstrous actions, it is evident that he was ready to attack anyone, no matter what the color of the skin of that person. His voice alone was scary enough to realize that he was not only out of control, but has anger issues (or was just another racist police officer) that should have prevented him to work for the police.

As we watch the short documentary feature, the director aims at racism, which does exist, however, it is strongly being emphasized in this story as the main factor for the police officer to act in such a way; a way no human being should ever act. But was it due to him being racist is what the film fails to explain and instead, offers its own version which is far from what you see in the documentary.

My main issue is that “Traffic Stop” picked up a wrong narrative and continues manipulating it by creating more issues with racism than preventing it. The film should use clear language to condemn any bigotry and violence that is being caused by uneducated people or simply, racists. But showing that anyone who is getting arrested is a nice and educated person is the wrong way of delivering a message. Because not everyone is as good and well-mannered like Breaion King, and how the scenario would’ve unfolded if it wasn’t the case is anybody’s guess. In such light, “Traffic Stop” is totally wrong.

In the end, this film does not help solve the big racial problem in the United States. Instead, it makes it worse by making the issue more definitive than ever. It almost sets the nation one hundred years back, while the same platform could have been used to ease the fire, provide an explanation, and show the best examples we all could follow, learn, grow and become better than who we are. Because we all must remember that every single person is a beautiful human being, whether that person is Black or White, Asian or Caucasian, Hispanic, or Indian. We are all unique in our own ways and yet all the same. The only thing keeping us apart is the border, while everything else we have is common – we are one. But what does “Traffic Stop” do? It shows that we are not, and that’s super dangerous and divisive in an already deeply troubled world.

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