The TV One docu-series, Two Sides is executive produced by Academy Award® winner Viola Davis, Julius Tennon (JuVee Productions), and Lemuel Plummer (L. Plummer Media). It explores watershed moments for law enforcement and the Black community at the crossroads between life and death. The premiere episode features the case of Eric Garner who was killed while arrested in New York City. His death ignited the “I Can’t Breathe” movement.
Focusing on four headline-grabbing fatal police encounters during 2014 – 2015, the series analyzes and presents multiple points of view of the highly charged cases involving Eric Garner (New York), Ezell Ford (California), John Crawford (Ohio), and Sandra Bland (Texas).
In listening to Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, Stacey Artist (Friend of John Crawford’s family) and Shante Needham (Sandra Bland’s sister) speak on the injustices between African Americans and the police. The question we posed is how often should we talk to our African American children as it relates to police brutality and racism in America? Carr says, “One of the things we have to teach our children who come into the world is how to pray,” adding, “We have to lean on God first.”
Artist, a married mother of four boys; 28, 25 and 20-year old twins, expressed telling her children when they encounter the police do not run or talk disrespectfully. This as she dealt with her fear of something happening to her husband and kids once they stepped outside of the door. A feeling she knew she had to gain control of, but a realization all too familiar in the death of her best friend’s son, John who was shot and killed inside of the Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio near Dayton. “I’m nervous when they step outside the door to go to work or class,” she admits. Artist doesn’t live in Ohio so to keep John’s name alive she does what she can from where she lives. “I still fight for John!” she says. And in doing so, Artist decided at the beginning of this year she would work on letting her family be without fear of thinking otherwise. She advises parents to do what she teaches her boys. If ever stopped by the police; turn the interior light on and crack the window. “I told my boys to call my phone and if I don’t answer, let my voicemail pick up so there is a recording.” adding, “I remind my boys to keep their hands on the wheel, respond with—”sir, “no sir,” and if they are nervous tell the officer why, but be respectful.” Artist began speaking to her children about police brutality very early, when she figured they could comprehend the subject matter. “It’s unfortunate in John’s case he did not have a chance to live. I made my boys watch the video because this was someone they grew up with.”
Listening to the stories of the families of the victims and their account of what happened was emotional. Their transparency in where they are (now), forgiving or not forgiving what happened to their loved ones, motivates many to become a part of the solution to fighting racism and police brutality in America.
The media call also included:
- Julius Tennon, Producer
- Andrew Wang, Producer
- LeJohn Plummer, Director
- D’Angela Proctor, SVP, Original Programming & Production
- Robyn Greene Arrington, Vice President of Original Programming
A few of the producers said this docu-series will provide perspective from the families of the victims as well as some law enforcement who are featured. Viewers will be able to draw their own conclusion from watching.
“Two Sides” premieres on TV One Monday January 22 at 10/9C