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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A compelling film that reveals the side of a radical political group that the media forgot to show, 4 August 2003
Author: dreddchild from New York
You do not have to grow up in the Sixties in order to know they were
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.
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
An interesting look at prominent Black Panther Party members 30 years on, 19 July 2000
Author: Nick Pullar from Auckland, New Zealand
Many people who were alive in the sixties will remember the Black Panther
Party. They were the scary looking black guys with leather coats, black
berets and guns.
They patrolled black neighbourhoods causing trouble and killing policemen... right?
Only if you believe the propaganda. What this independent film makes clear is that the Black Panther Party was a radical progressive movement, who along with Students for A Democratic Society, and the ACLU and NAACP helped change the United States in the sixties.
Do you also remember the breakfast clubs so that children didn't have to go to school hungry? Do you remember the books that were an important part of training a Black Panther Party member? Do you remember the fact that the Black Panther Party members had every legal right to do what they did?
The movie makes it clear that the reason tat the Party members carried guns was to protect themselves from Police brutality. In the end, I think that their policy backfired, and they were targeted much more violently then they might otherwise have been for that policy.
The movie combines coverage of sixties footage with shots of four members as they appear now. Even though they have been subjected to harassment, imprisonment, and brutality, what shined clearly through, was that these are intelligent, articulate and determined people who have made the very best of their lives and kept to their ideals.
The most emotional part of the movie was when the people talked about their comrades who had been killed. They fought against the "pig" power structures in society, in order to give their people a better life. They look around now, and see that over the last 30 years, things have not got better, instead, they have become much worse, and the question was asked: "Did our brothers die in vain?"
It's not too late to make the answer "NO!"
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