In the recent aftermath of the unbearable number of police killings of young African-American men across the country, we have seen a growing movement of people awakening to the harsh and complex realities of race relations in America. For many African-American families in America, to be black is to be at an extraordinary risk. (Federal data shows that, in recent years, young black males are 21 times more likely to be shot dead than their white counterparts.1)
After Michael Brown's death, Trinity United Church of Christ, a large and vibrant congregation on the South Side of Chicago born during the civil rights movement, took on the great challenge of how to help their community cope with the reality of racism and police violence. Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Trinity's Senior Pastor, believes that love and justice are inseparable companions. His church held a weekend-long training to educate their congregation on safety measures to use in their interactions with law enforcement. In addition, they held forums with a wide variety of legal professionals in conversation with their youth and their parents (police, judges, prosecutors, etc.) and used a very important infographic entitled, "10 Rules of Survival if Stopped by the Police," which was developed by David Miller, founder of The Dare to be King Project.
When guest preacher Rev. Dr. Frank Thomas (Professor of Homiletics and Director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration at Christian Theological Seminary of Indianapolis, IN) took Trinity's pulpit the Sunday after the grand jury's decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson, he read the brochure from the training, recognized immediately its power to save lives, and felt the need to get it in front of as many people as possible. That's when the idea of putting the "10 Rules" into a short film format was born.
"I believe it will save lives and hopefully reduce some of the tension between the community and the police," said Rev. Dr. Thomas. "The community needs the police, and the police need the community."
So, in partnership with CTS, WFYI, and Trinity UCC, the SALT Project (a not-for-profit production company based in Indianapolis) used the "10 Rules" created by David Miller as a springboard to create "Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival."
"It is our hope that this new short film format will reach an even wider audience and help save even more lives," said Rev. Elizabeth Myer Bouton, President and Creative Director of SALT.
The target audience for "Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival" is not just for the African-American community; the film is for everyone who believes that we can do better as a nation.
"The goal is to create understanding," said Rev. Dr. Thomas. "We would like people from all walks of life to watch this short film and, in doing so, seek to understand both sides of the situation. We can say #BlackLivesMatter and #PoliceLivesMatter."
10 Rules of Survival if Stopped by the Police
1. Be polite and respectful when stopped by the police. Keep your mouth closed.
2. Remember that your goal is to get home safely. If you feel that your rights have been violated, you and your parents have the right to file a formal complaint with your local police jurisdiction.
3. Don't, under any circumstance, get into an argument with the police.
4. Always remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in court.
5. Keep your hands in plain sight and make sure the police can see your hands at all times.
6. Avoid physical contact with the police. No sudden movements and keep hands out of your pockets.
7. Do not run even if you are afraid of the police.
8. Even if you believe that you are innocent, do not resist arrest.
9. Don't make any statements about the incident until you are able to meet with a lawyer or public defender.
10. Stay calm and remain in control. Watch your words, body language, and emotions.