Los Gatos, CA – Netflix is about to release an animated film called “Cops and Robbers” about racial profiling by police based on the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, but Arbery wasn’t shot by a law enforcement officer.
“Animation and activism unite in this multimedia spoken-word performance that brings awareness to racial profiling, police violence, and other injustices,” is how Netflix has described the upcoming production on its streaming service.
The animated film, which is slated for release on Dec. 28 on Netflix, was written by Timothy Ware-Hill and Arnon Manor and was inspired by a poem Ware-Hill wrote after the cell phone video of Arbery’s fatal shooting was released on May 5.
The directors said they made the movie “for all the black men, women and children who have been victims of racial profiling, police violence, loss of life and other injustices just for being themselves,” according to Variety.
In an interview with Jada Pinkett Smith, Ware-Hill explained how he developed his concept.
“I took a poem and I decided to jog and recite it to connect it to Ahmaud’s story of a black man just running in his neighborhood, minding his business, and being killed while the poem asks the question ‘how do we get back to a place of innocence?’” he explained.
“How do we get to a place of seeing black people as human beings?” Ware-Hill continued. “Do cops remember being kids when we used to just play together? That’s the last line of the poem that I pose at the end – do you remember that when you were just a human and you weren’t a police officer?”
“It wasn’t black and blue, it was us. And where did that disconnect happen when you joined the force and how can you go back to that humanity that you had growing up as a kid and still wear it with your uniform and still serve and protect all people?” he asked.
Ware-Hill also voiced the animated short, Variety reported.
Manor told Pinkett Smith that he wanted to make a film out of the poem after he saw the video of Arbery’s killers chasing him down “like an animal on the street.”
Critics have hailed the “powerful messaging” in the production, but one important fact has not been made clear in the marketing and advertising of “Cops and Robbers.”
Arbery was not shot by a police officer.
He was killed by son of a former district attorney’s investigator who had lost his police powers almost a year earlier.
The police report said the incident on Feb. 23 began when Arbery jogged past the home of 64-year-old Gregory McMichael and his son, 34-year-old Travis McMichael, the Associated Press reported.
The McMichaels told police afterwards that they thought Arbery was the suspect in several recent burglaries in the neighborhood, so they armed themselves and followed him, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The men jumped in their pickup truck and followed the 25 year old as he jogged through the neighborhood.
A video, filmed by the McMichaels’ friend, Willian Bryan, who was following in another vehicle, showed Arbery running up the middle of the residential road toward a white pickup truck was stopped ahead of him.
The video showed Arbery ran around the truck and a struggle ensued before he reappeared back in front of it again and engaged in a hand-to-hand struggle for Travis McMichael’s shotgun.
Arbery was shot twice in the chest and died at the scene.
No arrests were made for more than two months after the shooting as the case was passed from prosecutor to prosecutor, prompting outrage from Arbery’s family and community.
It has since been reported that McMichael’s former boss, Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson, told police not to arrest either McMichael on the night Arbery was shot.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) was asked to assist in the investigation into Arbery’s death in early May, and 48 hours later, both Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested for murder.
The man who filmed the video of the shooting has was also later charged with murder.