A former police officer relives his experience of being both a victim and a perpetrator of racism in the British police force.
The Black Cop, a short documentary supported by the BFI Doc Society Fund and commissioned by Guardian Documentaries, tells the story of Gamal Turawa, otherwise known as “G”, a former Metropolitan Police officer who admits to racially profiling and harassing Black people in the early days of his career.
The Black Cop will be released on the Guardian website next week on Wednesday 19th January 2022.
The trailer for The Black Cop can be viewed now, here.
“I came from an all-white environment into a totally Black environment. My mindset was to behave and become as white as possible” Gamal Turawa (The Black Cop still)
With the mounting pressure on the British and American government to address the racial profiling involved in policing as well as the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter Movement that ensued as a result, this timely documentary will take audiences into the usually very private world of policing, told through an unfamiliar perspective.
This story is a multi-layered one and sits in the centre of three pivotal moments in recent history: from the Black communities’ resistance of oppressive policing to the push for equality from the LGBTQIA community and the aftermath of the West African ‘farming’ phenomenon.
For those who don’t know, the farming phenomenon was a private fostering or adoption arrangement outside the remit of the local authority where white families took care of black children. It gained notoriety in response to a growing population of African student families taking up temporary residence at British universities in the mid-1950s. The practice continued until the 1990s.
Using archive and dramatic reconstruction to illustrate his story, “G” takes viewers on a journey through his childhood and professional development as he grapples with issues of racial and sexual identity and acceptance. He admits, despite being a victim of racialised bullying himself, to targeting young Black men for controversial stop and searches in a quest for finding acceptance in the force. He delves into his once complicated relationship with race and how it became a bargaining tool while seeking recognition from white colleagues. Most importantly, “G” shares how he turned these experiences around and now dedicates his time to helping others on their quest for self-acceptance.
Cherish Oteka, Director of The Black Cop says
“The police have had a fraught relationship with the Black community for as long as Black communities began living/began being forced to live in white majority countries. As well as this and in equal measure, the LGBT community has had a long and enduring fight for equality in mainstream society. As a Black and openly queer person myself, I have both witnessed and experienced homophobia and racism. So it was with great astonishment that I learned of Gamal’s story.
I initially came to know Gamal as Britain’s first openly gay and Black police officer. I reached out to him as I was keen on telling stories that platformed people who sat at the intersection of Blackness and queerness.
Gamal’s story shines a light on how someone with a deep sense of self hate could end up in a high-powered position and, out of their own self-loathing, can abuse their privileged position with devastating effects on those around him.
To date, many of the documentaries I’ve made have explored identity, discrimination, and institutional bias but never through the lens of someone who sits on all sides of the conversation. The Black Cop is an exploration of self-hatred and the devastating effects it can have. “G” isn’t someone that we can easily discard as a horrible person, he is someone who acted out of pain as we all have. In one person and one story we present a villain, victim and hero and begin to understand the potential that we all have in being any one of these if not all three.”
Marlon Kemeka |Adult G
Amari James | Child G
Marvis Mogor | Young Black Man
Giovanni Austin | Young Black Man
Christopher Quagraine | Young Black Man
Reece Alexander-Putinas | Police trainee
Cyril Blake | Police trainee
Vince Matthews | Police trainee
Jumaane Brown | Police Officer
Lindsay Poulton, Head of Documentaries at the Guardian:
“We are delighted to have had the opportunity to support Cherish to explore this story of identity and acceptance and are proud of the creative, thoughtful documentary that they have made. It has been a pleasure to witness this film spark insightful conversations at film festivals and we are excited to launch it on our digital platforms.”
Lisa Marie Russo, Executive Producer for the BFI Doc Society Fund:
“We were struck by Cherish and producer Emma Cooper’s compassionate approach to telling the complex story of “G.” Cherish’s intimate and immediate interview style, supported by emotional archive and sometimes shocking visuals, mark them out as a talent to watch.”
The Black Cop has been screened at Aesthetic Short Film Festival, Raindance Film Festival, Out On Film, Atlanta’s International LGBTQ Film Festival, The Pan African Film & Arts Festival, Leeds International Film Festival, American Black Film Festival and British Shorts Film Festival.
For more information on The Black Cop, click here.