After an interaction with Howard County police in 2012 that he found deeply troubling, filmmaker A.J. Ali says he was motivated to address relations between police and the African-American community.
AJ — teamed up with Errol Webber, a Maryland Institute College of Art alumnus and cinematographer who previously worked on an Oscar-winning documentary short. With Ali as director and Webber as director of photography, they produced "Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. Is the Answer," which discusses bridging the gap in police-community relations throughout America. The acronym "L.O.V.E.," coined by Ali, is to encourage people to "learn about others in their community, open their heart to them, volunteer to be part of the solution in their life, and empower others to do the same.
The solutions-focused documentary features nearly 30 interviews with members of communities across the country. Current and retired law enforcement members — including Baltimore Police Chief Melvin T. Russell, commander of the department's community collaboration division, and retired Los Angeles police Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey — appear along with community leaders, social workers and psychologists who discuss the effects of racial profiling on American communities and tragic instances in the history of police-community relations, which include the deaths of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and the five members of law enforcement who died in a shootout in Dallas in July.
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