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7 June 2001 (Germany)  »

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Yhteiskunnan vihollinen  »

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A compelling film that reveals the side of a radical political group that the media forgot to show
4 August 2003 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

You do not have to grow up in the Sixties in order to know they were tumultuous times.

The hippie movement, Vietnam and political scandals rocked the decade, making it infamous. The civil rights move took center stage, as multiple groups a figure heads fought for equality, with varying levels of extremity in execution. One of the most extreme groups was the Black Panther Party. Often portrayed in the media as blood thirst, militant Black men complete with (legal) rifles and berets, they often made headlines with college campus take overs and shootouts with the police.

"Public Enemy" shows the not so popular side of the Party. Film maker Jens Muerer does a great job meshing archived footage with interviews with ex- panther members, all of whom lead prominent lives today. The interviews reveal a softer side, and shows it was a party motivated by love, not violence.

The media failed to show that the Panthers started the first free breakfast program, or how they cleaned the inner-city streets of drugs dealers. Or how the police instigated many of the infamous gun battles.

"Public Enemy" also reveals the unconstitutional way the FBI fought the Panthers' political influence, and how Cointelpro eventually destroyed the Party.

The sometimes heart-wrenching accounts from the ex-Panthers shows it wasn't just a terrorist group

All in all, this foreign documentary offers a refreshing view on a part of American history, a view that can rarely be found in the often politically-one sided US media.




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