Each year, the annual Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) offers a unique multi-week experience – both in-person and through streaming – through a wide range of films, documentaries, and shorts. It’s a chance for everyone from seasoned moviegoers to novice viewers to learn, connect, and be entertained. This year, the ACLU of Ohio is proud to partner with CIFF for their screening of the confrontational documentary, Power, directed by Oscar-nominated documentarian, Yance Ford. 
Power takes individuals through a deep dive into the history of policing in America. Shining a light on both the evolution of policing practices and the dangers of a system that has largely remained unchecked, the film aims to tackle the ongoing struggles of race, class, and privilege nationwide. Specifically, Ford makes the case that racism and fears of changing status quos serve as root causes for over-policing and lack of restrictions within the force. In addition to providing an educational historical perspective, Power also invites viewers to confront their own perceptions on racial divides in America and the structural issues that plague our criminal legal system.  

At the ACLU of Ohio, we are committed to racial justice, and we fight for the rights and civil liberties of ALL Ohioans. Part of that mission includes facing racism and inequity within our justice system head on. Our work extends beyond legal action; It also includes supporting communities directly through advocacy and organizing statewide. We currently support two major community reform efforts in Ohio: The Columbus Safety Collective and Ohio Police Reform Policy Table.  

The Columbus Safety Collective is comprised of citizens demanding that Columbus City Council invest both time and resources into creating a non-police emergency response pilot program for non-police teams to respond to crises and 911 calls. Cities such as Eugene, Oregon and Denver, Colorado have successfully moved forward with similar models, and it’s time for Columbus to be next. 

Similarly, the Ohio Police Reform Policy Table is a community-focused initiative fighting against unjust policing. This coalition, which includes the ACLU of Ohio and is directly led by impacted Ohioans, fights for transparency and accountability within police forces. It also advocates for improved training and mental health support for officers.  

Both of these community coalitions boldly imagine an anti-racist future where communities can feel safe and supported. This will require tremendous reform and foundational work from within the system paired with the mobilization and organization of everyday citizens. However, these efforts truly begin when we recognize the injustices that have been embedded within our systems for years and believe that there is a more equitable path forward. 

In addition to organizing, we understand the power of public education, and it serves as an another vital branch to our racial justice work. We recently released our six-part video series, Know Your Rights: Rights versus Reality. Each video spotlights honest discussions and reflections about topics such as being stopped by the police, being arrested, protesting, law enforcement at your home., and what “The Talk” means to Black and Brown families in America. These resources are meant to inform and empower Ohioans and feature a dynamic group of panelists. 

The ACLU of Ohio is thrilled to partner with the Cleveland International Festival, and specifically uplift such an important documentary as Power. Through the intertwining work of legal action, community organizing, political advocacy, and public education, we continue our mission and underscore the belief that justice reform is not only necessary but possible.

Viewers can attend a screening of Power on April 12, 2024, at 4:50 p.m. at KeyBank State Theatre or stream the documentary from April 14 – April 21, 2024. Learn more here.