The animated documentary THE DISTRICT traces the complex history of African American police officers in Chicago through the history of the cities most influential department, the third district. A police district that was left for dead by white flight in the mid-eighties became a model of policing.
Mission StatementTHE DISTRICT is a showcase of underrepresented communities within a larger underrepresented community. From the African American law enforcement community to the poor and low-income communities, THE DISTRICT reflects many segments of society.
About The Project
The half-hour animated documentary THE DISTRICT traces the complex history of African American police officers in Chicago through the history of the cities most influential department, the 3rd district. A precinct that was left for dead by white flight in the mid-eighties became a model of policing in African American communities. This documentary is told from the perspective of a retired police detective and former member of the Black Panther Party, Dahveed Lemieux Retired mounted police officer Delbert Howell. Though they’re stories of the past, we see the clear connection to our modern issues as well as an examination of the relationship between police, the African American community, and the city itself.
I was drawn to this topic from a personal and professional standpoint. As a former member of a police conduct watchdog group and a current producer of ethnographic documentaries that highlight underrepresented communities, this project merged those to elements of my life.
Although this is based around personal stories, these stories resonate socially and culturally. Conflicts between the African American community and the police department is a generational issue. However, there is little to no discussion from the perspective of those who are members of both communities and how their personal navigate the tensions. The subjects of this documentary will give new and insightful viewpoints on the community, a sense of duty, racism, class, and the civic engagement needed to combat decades-old tensions.
THE DISTRICT is more than a documentary but a platform to start a conversation about the relationship between the African American community and law enforcement. The way we will start this conversation is by not limiting our screening opportunities to festivals and distribution. We will include community organizations and events such as symposiums panel discussions. We have made contact with activist groups and law enforcement organizations and received positive feedback.
Also, the documentary will be added to the City Vanguard documentary catalog project that is designed to create a list of ethnographic and social justice documentaries that will available to academic and cultural institutions as additions to educational curriculums.
Production in the era of COVID-19
We have made arrangements to postpone production until local health guidelines approve of gatherings large enough to accommodate our production. Since we are recording audio, we will require a mask and the audio set up will be done before the subject arrives giving us the ability to remain six feet apart for the entire session.
The documentary at its core is a social justice story. Although it is a historical topic, it touches on issues that are just as relevant today as they were forty years ago. In our opinion, this perfectly aligns with the mission of racial justice.
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About This Team
David Weathersby is a filmmaker and the founder of City Vanguard, an arts organization that produces community-based documentaries for educational and cultural institutions. As a director, he has produced films, documentaries, music videos, and video art projects. His past projects include the documentaries Got the Love, Jazz Occurrence, Thee Debauchery Ball and The Color of Art. His work has been featured on The Africa Channel, WTTW and various film festivals including Pan African Film Festival, Sand Diego Black Film Festival, Roxbury International Film Festival, Chicago Onscreen, Chicago South Side Film Festival, Collected Voices Film Festival, Black Harvest Film Festival, Image Union Film Festival, and The Chicago Short Comedy Film Festival. In 2018, he was awarded a Black Excellence award for best director by the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago and in 2019, his documentary Thee Debauchery Ball won the best feature film at the Black Harvest Film Festival and Chicago South Side Film Festival.