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Film "Why This Moment" Captures Richmond's Fight for Racial Justice

Why this moment documentary
Screenshot from the film "Why This Moment."

“I saw the video of George Floyd’s, murder. I got so angry. My phone was blowing up, instagram was blowing up, things were happening downtown. I just know I have to go.” 

-Leewa Ali

Protests erupted across the country after the death of George Floyd in late May of 2020, including Richmond, Virginia. Filmmakers Domico Phillips and Metta Bastet captured the local outcry as people expressed their frustrations over repeated acts of police brutality. The documentary “Why This Moment” details the emotions and events surrounding the protests from the perspective of the activists.

 

Phillips witnessed the first night of civil unrest in Richmond, as well as the energy of the crowds, violence towards the protesters and the camaraderie of a collective cause. “When that happened with George Floyd, everybody united together and took matters into their own hands,” said Philips as he documented unfolding events on Richmond’s streets, “Coming out here everyday and every night you don’t know what to expect.”

Throughout the protests, there have been multiple clashes with police, apologies from officials, peaceful demonstrations, and ultimately the removal of many confederate statues in Richmond. 

“Why this moment?” asked Bastet, lead producer and director, coining the title for the documentary. Bastet always saw the confederate statues down Monument Avenue and across Virginia as symbols of oppressions and was stunned when momentum from the protests led to their removal. “Is this really happening now? Wow,” she exclaimed. As lead producer, she wanted to explore the demonstrators’  reactions to the statues’ removal because they felt similarly about their presence. 

“The murder of George Floyd was the last straw, you know, for our nation and beyond,” said Princess Blanding, sister of Marcus-David Peters.  In 2018, Peters was shot by police in Richmond while in a mental health crisis. Bland is also featured in the film, which spotlights Peters and Richmond’s own reckoning with police reform.   

Watch “Why This Moment” on VPM PBS Tuesday, November 17 at 10pm.

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