Why Everyone Needs to See HBO’s “Traffic Stop”

Before we get started on all of the right and wrong things to be discovered about “Traffic Stop”, it’s important to note that it’s obviously good enough to be nominated for an Oscar. So, no matter which side of the street you stand on regarding alleged police brutality running rampant all over our country, this show is a must-see.

Stark Realism

Even if you don’t like grainy police dash cam footage, you’ll have to admit that it imparts a stark realism to these situations that occur all too often every day. Unfortunately, this type of footage may also strike fear in the hearts of citizens of all races because at any time, on any street in the U.S., a traffic stop has the potential to go terribly wrong, just as it did for a young Austin, Texas, schoolteacher in 2015 named Breaion King, who also happens to be African-American.

Just Driving to Work

It’s really quite easy to empathize with Ms. King’s predicament, especially since all she was doing was driving to work. All of a sudden, everything changed in an instant when she was stopped by a local police officer. She abruptly found herself lying face-down in the road as she was handcuffed in spite of the fact that she was screaming in both pain and fear. The extensive video of her frightening encounter with police officer Bryan Richter clearly shows the heightened tension between minorities and law enforcement officers. And, the entire incident is quite stark and sobering even though fortunately she doesn’t end up dead like many other televised police stops that go wrong.

Racist Dynamic

On the other hand “Traffic Stop” director, Kate Davis, lets her footage play out a great deal longer than those cable news snippets that we usually see. In addition to the fact that we also get to see the aftermath of King’s arrest, it gives it even more impact. So, besides the quick escalation of the entire traffic stop, one of the most illuminating parts of the footage may just be that aftermath and what then transpired. For starters, the arresting officer admitted to the fact that King, who weighs a mere 108-pounds, was so petite that she didn’t really appear to pose a threat. In addition, there is candid footage of her subsequent ride to the police station accompanied by a supervisor who proceeded to openly express racist sentiments. It’s just this particular type of dynamic that frequently has not only tragic consequences but also serves to erode the trust between law enforcement and minorities while also fostering plenty of suspicions on both sides.

Short Film Oscar Contender  

“Traffic Stop” is a film that’s only 35-minutes long, making it a contender for an Academy Award in the short film category. It debuted on HBO at 8 pm on Feb. 19. The grainy images of this film appear to be just another necessary tool that brings the issues of race vs. authority into much sharper focus. It’s also definitely made for informing viewers and starting a much-needed conversation that revolves around the way that law enforcement interacts with African-Americans and other minority individuals. Hopefully, we’ll all become better educated, as well as better informed prior to that next minor traffic stop that might end in tragedy.


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