ACTION ALERT: Remove Cop Shows from TV
(June 10, 2020) — It’s time for Netflix to remove all cop shows from the streaming platform. Back in January, we questioned Netflix about having the law enforcement show “Border Security: America’s Front Line” on their platform, a reality show that glorifies border patrol agents. Now that the world is protesting against police and the atrocities they commit, it is important that media leader Netflix take a strong stand against police violence.
Shows about police have been an ongoing problem in the television and entertainment landscape. Whether it is reality shows like “Live PD” or “Cops,” or fictional television shows like “Law & Order: SVU,” cop shows heroize police.1
But we know from what’s going on in our country that police are not heroes. They are out in the streets of cities and towns across America right now, tear-gassing Black people and beating protestors until they bleed.2 They habitually demonize Black people, harass and kill us regularly, and make us feel unsafe and unwelcome in this country. 3
Police are harmful, not heroic. With every cop show that remains streaming, police officers’ violent behavior is glorified and legitimized in real life. Police officers’ stories are frequently centered and they are always the main characters. While storytelling through TV and film can create larger than life characters, it can also change the way audiences understand the world.
By demanding Netflix remove all cop shows from their platform, we will take steps toward ending the false, stereotypical narrative that police are heroes and improve people’s understanding of how police officers cause harm in the real-world.
Until justice is real,
— Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Jade, Johnny, Amanda, Marie, Evan, Imani, Eesha, Samantha, Jennette, Ciera, Marcus, FolaSade, and the rest of the Color Of Change team
- “Cops Are Always the Main Characters,” Vulture, June 1, 2020.
- “America’s Protests Won’t Stop Until Police Brutality Does,” The New York Times, June 1, 2020.
- “These 4 charts describe police violence in America,” CNBC, June 1, 2020.
ACTION ALERT: Police Have a License to Kill; End Qualified Immunity
As we have witnessed again and again — including in the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis — too many law enforcement personnel in our country are too willing to ignore the civil rights of the people they are supposed to protect.
One reason for this — along with severe problems in recruiting, training, accountability, militarization and culture within police departments as well as systemic racism within America at large — is a court concoction known as qualified immunity.
A quick history lesson:
- The Civil Rights Act of 1871 expressly allows people to sue public officials, including police officers, who violate their civil rights.
- In the 150 years since, the Supreme Court has shredded that law first by making up, then by expanding, an exception — called qualified immunity — for law enforcement.
- Qualified immunity in effect means that lawsuits by victims of police misconduct are often thrown out of court simply because the court has not previously heard a similar case.
- It’s a Catch-22 — kind of like when someone can’t get a job because she doesn’t have any experience but can’t get any experience because nobody will give her a job.
ACTION: Legislation to end qualified immunity — so that victims of police racism and violence can at least have their day in court — was just introduced in Congress.
The End Qualified Immunity Act is co-sponsored by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar (who represents the district that includes Minneapolis), among others. Some version of qualified immunity reform is almost certain to be included in the main police reform legislation that Congress will consider.
Robert Weissman is the president of Public Citizen