On These Grounds

Garrett Zevgetis

Activist Dutch premiere

After a classroom video of police violence against a black girl goes viral, a heated national debate erupts. Whose fault is it? Was it racist? And why are police officers patrolling US schools anyway? Activist Vivian Anderson uproots her life to help the girl, and also confronts the officer.

Several US states have laws criminalising ‘disturbing school’. It is under such a law that Ben Fields, a white South Carolina police officer, confronts the ‘criminal behaviour’ of 16-year-old Shakara Murphy. After a dispute with her teacher about having her phone out in class, Fields very violently removes Shakara. Both she and her classmate Niya Kenny, who filmed the incident, are arrested and charged with ‘school disturbance’.

Niya’s video of the incident goes viral, however, catching the attention of New York-based activist Vivian Anderson. Anderson decides to move to South Carolina to help the girls. We follow her establishing grassroots organisation Every Black Girl, and also engaging in a dialogue with police officer Fields, who sees himself as a ‘political victim’. Looking at the story from all sides, On These Grounds offers a thorough and very personal deep dive into systemic racism in the US.

Nominated for the Activist award
All nominations

Credits

Director
Garrett Zevgetis
Producer
Ariana Garfinkel, Chico Colvard
Year
2021
Country of production
United States
Type
Documentary
Duration
101 minutes
Spoken language
English
Subtitles
None
Production company
Disturbing Film LLC
World Sales
Journeyman Pictures