With the riots in Ferguson, Missouri and the debate of Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter, the documentary “Cincinnati Goddamn” came at an opportune time. “Cincinnati Goddamn” covers 15 unarmed black men killed by the Cincinnati Police Department, primarily focusing on the untimely deaths of Roger Owensby Jr. and Timothy Thomas. Though taking place from 1995 to 2001, its relevance is still seen 14 years later.
On Wednesday night, more than 1,000 people came to view the film at Ohio State’s Wexner Center for the Arts. The event was also live streamed at the Mansfield campus.
This film examined the negative relationship between the citizens of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Police Department. The film also covered the trials of the police officers charged with killing the men and the rioting that followed the officers’ acquittals. “Cincinnati Goddamn” followed the long-lasting impact of the victims’ families and, ultimately, the city of Cincinnati.
Following the film, there was a Q&A session with April Martin and Paul Hill, co-directors of the film; Iris Roley, a community activist and monitor of the Cincinnati Police-Community Collaborative Agreement; and Rhonda Williams, the director of the Social Justice Institute at Case Western Reserve University. Treva Lindsey — an OSU assistant professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies — served as the moderator.
During the Q&A session, Williams said they are looking for ways to enforce “education instead of militarization of police forces.”
Martin said that she hopes for “the police to be part of, or at least understand the community they work in.” Martin added that if that doesn’t work, “(we) can start to police our own communities.”
“Cincinnati really started it all and it really goes hand-in-hand with the events happening in Ferguson, Missouri,” said Ginette Rhodes, a first-year in exploration, that was in attendance.
Rhodes is from the St. Louis area herself. She noted that she thought the film was very powerful and that it should be used as an educational tool to help people understand police brutality and affect change.
Hannah Sanders, a first-year in business and a Cincinnati native, was also in attendance.
“I was only 3-years-old when it happened, so I’ve grown up hearing about it, but I’ve never seen it like that,” Sanders said.
Co-director Hill said he foresees “Cincinnati Goddamn” to be available on DVD or online sometime next year.