Stunning Documentary ‘CopWatch’ Shows The Theological Virtues In Real World

‘COPWATCH’ is a true story of  an organization whose mission is to film police activity as a non-violent form of protest and deterrent to police brutality.

COPWATCH is not about what happened in front of the cameras, but it’s about those who stood behind them,It’s about a sense brotherhood that developed through the shared trauma of standing up to police brutality.”-Camilla Hall, Director

While watching the film I became painfully aware that there was a strong sense of theology that ran through it. I am sure the documentarist  didn’t intend it that way, but, as long time CCD teacher I can see it that way.

Our country has been in the throws of an intense struggle with authority, abuse of power, and lack of Christian charity for a long time. ‘COPWATCH’ shows you that there are modern day disciples taking hold of the struggle to bring truth to the world.

The film aptly displays the theological virtues are “gifts infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as His children and of meriting eternal life.  The young men  focused upon show the three theological virtues are faith, hope, and charity (or love).

The documentarian profiles WeCopwatch members Jacob Crawford (co-founder), who has spent the last 15 years with a camera in his hand documenting police activity, and David Whitt (co- founder), a young father who lived in Ferguson and started filming after Michael Brown’s “Hands Up” shooting.  The film revists the capturing  of Eric Garner’s final words “I Can’t Breathe” on a cell phone by Ramsey Orta. Ironically he is the only person from the scene of the fatal Staten Island arrest to go to jail. In Baltimore, Kevin Moore, awoken by the screams of his friend and neighbor Freddie Gray, grabbed a camera and ran outside. He filmed the  police dragging an injured young man into the back of a paddy wagon. Freddie Gray would die from the injuries and Kevin’s video, like those before his, were shown to the entire world by news broadcast and online. Like Ramsey, Kevin became a target for making his voice heard and was arrested shortly after he filmed the video while attending a protest.

  • Charity– The men young men in this documentary show charity, which  is the virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbors as ourselves for the love of God. That means that any cost we will bare the burden of  help.  Each young man risked themselves to film and post the truth.
  • Hope– Hope becomes a major player because they sow the seeds of knowledge that each filmed tory bring truth to the world where after awhile people are held accountable and no is harmed, maimed or killed ever again.  We hope that the truth will be visible by all who can see. Funny enough when you think of truth you think of Jesus’s question to Pilate. ‘What is truth?’ It is a question we still struggle withe every time a young person lies wounded in the street.
  • Faith -Finally, the film inspires you to think about faith. Faith is belief in something true, based on the word of another, even though that truth might not be fully understood. That faith is evident as you the viewer are lead through why they men do what they do. That faith is evident as one young man explains, ‘I got a lot of people I don’t want to fail.’

That in essence is what we all want to be  part of. We want a world that protects the dignity of a human being, however flawed we all may be, as evident in the film we are all due dignity and respect. If you can get through those virtues. The moral ones prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance fall in place.

What  great world it would be if everyone could actually take to heart what this film is truly about. Virtues are like habits. They need to be practiced; they can be lost if they are neglected. These young men are not perfect, but they definitely are the prophets of our time. In our modern world the active camera can keep you honest.

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