In conducting research for her many acclaimed projects, Ava DuVernay has sifted through thousands of hours of footage documenting police brutality. "I am unfortunately kind of desensitised to so many of the racist, violent images because I have to use them so much in my work," the director said in a recent virtual The Ellen DeGeneres Show appearance. As a result, Ava was taken aback by her reaction to the video of George Floyd being killed by police officer Derek Chauvin: "It was really shocking to me why the George Floyd video just brought me to my knees."
"We have let police officers who abuse off the hook by allowing them to recede into society."
After some questioning, Ava deduced a reason: "It was because we actually watched both parties' faces perfectly framed . . . It was both men, right in your face, right to the lens — one begging for his life, and one taking his life." Ava went on to explain how many police officers have benefited from a level of anonymity. "It made me realise that we have let police officers who abuse off the hook by allowing them to recede into society and kind of disappear," she said. And whereas the names of victims of police brutality are widely circulated and remembered, rightfully so, the names of the officers are often forgotten. "This invisibility allows us to tell a story that is incomplete," Ava said.
In response, Ava has launched the Law Enforcement Accountability Project (LEAP), which will fund and elevate storytelling projects offering a "narrative change around police abuse, misconduct, and murder of Black people," Ava said in a different clip from her interview. Those who would like to get involved can donate to help fund a project or sign up for a newsletter alerting them to completed projects they can then promote on social media. It's also worth noting that 13th, Ava's seminal 2016 documentary on mass incarceration, is currently available on YouTube in its entirety.