“Straight Outta Compton” debuted at No. 1 in theaters this weekend earning $56.1 million and received high praise perhaps nowhere more than Compton, California.
The film, which chronicles gangsta rap group N.W.A's rise to fame and their intolerance for police brutality, also attracted less-enthused police officers who swarmed theaters during the movie’s opening weekend in LA -- and other theaters across the country.
One city official in Florida credited the enhanced security as a “safety and liability thing, not a racial thing,” while some theaters in Florida decided to forego screening the film altogether. Meanwhile, others shared criticism -- a writer from The Root described the heightened police presence as a move “straight outta racist playbook.”
“Show me the genius who came up with that plan so I can shake their hand. Or, tell the truth: Movie theaters are using the ‘anti-police’ line to thinly disguise their buy-in to dangerous stereotypes about black criminality and violence,” writer Kirsten West Savali wrote on The Root.
Despite police officers' looming anticipation of violence, the peace surrounding the theater was not disturbed in Compton on Friday night, nor any night following the film’s debut. Christopher Stoudt, a 30-year-old filmmaker, visited Compton and made a video to prove it.
"It was just totally unnecessary, it was unnecessary for them to be there at all," Stoudt told The Huffington Post of the police presence outside of the theater. "It was a typical Friday night where people came out to see a film that they connected with and validated their love for their city."
The 60-second video documents the events of the film’s opening night. While police likely expected the night to end with fighting and violence, it instead resulted in the community coming together to show their love for N.W.A., the group’s legacy and the city that raised them.
"Good things happen in Compton, good people that come from Compton," one resident said in the clip.
Stoudt said about seven police officers and three cop cars stood guard outside of the theater Friday night, which was located near the outskirts of Compton because there is no movie theater located directly in the city
. Stoudt acknowledges that the recent shootings
that have taken place at movie theaters in other states are tragic, but he said the precautionary measures officers took Friday night for the film were unnecessary and focus should instead be on the violence occurring against black individuals.
"It's so important for a film like this to be out right now because it validates that [police violence] was real. The way people are treated is unfair, it's unjust, it's prejudiced, it's a travesty and this film is important to me because it brings to light the issue of police brutality," he said."People wanted to make sure Compton is about more than violence."
And his video proves just that.