“137 Shots” Panel exemplified the “Epicenter of the American Sickness”

Timothy Russell’s vehicle. Photo courtesy of Cleveland.com

Inside the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law building, the Moot Courtroom was filled with guests on Feb. 23, as the crew of the Netflix film “137 Shots” took part in a panel to discuss the film’s meaning and messages.

Veteran journalist Russ Mitchell moderated the discussion between the audience and the following panelists:

The panel began with an introduction from Cleveland State University President Harlan Sands. After he listed off the evening’s participants, he mentioned his gratitude for having such a film be produced in the Cleveland area.

“If not us, then who?” Sands said. “These conversations are incredibly important. We are all a part of them, and we [CSU] will remain committed to having the kinds of discussions, learning engagements, and teaching engagements that are going to change the way that the world looks at certain things.”

Nevermore important than now, Sands added, the Social Justice Film Series at CSU, within the Social Justice movement around the world, has been at the forefront of public communication and media attention, since the wake of the 2020 George Floyd Protests.

The Background

Most of “137 Shots” film production took place over seven years ago. The 2012 shooting deaths of Cleveland residents, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams provided the central storyline for the film.

At the hands of police violence, Milano and Eduardos captured the images and statements that leaked out of the years-worth of history that trailed the 137 bullet holes that marked and penetrated Russell’s vehicle, following a 23-mile chase.

Out of the 60-plus officers involved in the chase, Michael Brelo, Wilfredo Diaz, Brian Sabolik, Erin O’Donnell, Michael Farley, and Chris Ereg were publicly identified, 13 of the officers were fired, but none were convicted.

Takeaways

After receiving many “thank you” notes and remarks of substance from audience members, each panelist explained what they had hoped the film would do for each viewer.

Russell, a Patient Access Supervisor at University Hospitals, gave an idea for audience members to walk out with. “We know that all lives matter, but the real issue is that we even have to remind America that Black Lives Matter,” Russell said.

Mitchell donated his final lines as tribute to the late Mansfield Frazier, a humbled speaker from Cleveland, who was featured in the film. He’d previously stated in the film for the audience to believe what was actually happening on screen rather than their “lying eyes.”

Mitchell mentioned one thing that gave him goosebumps was a question that he feels should be asked to those who consider policing their “dream job.” “If this is your dream job, what was your dream to do with this job?”

He closed his comments by saying, “it would be a beautiful thing to see more people doing this job in a way that we all dream of them doing it.”

Eduardos hoped that those who saw the film multiple times could take in the “gut check” that will help things change.

Milano ended the panel with a few words that moved the room and received a standing ovation from those in the crowd.

“This whole thing was about strength and how we define strength in our society,” Milano said. “Is it about violence and aggression? Or is it compassion and empathy?”

Milano suggested that social justice has been framed as only being about “defunding the police,” but it is really about demilitarizing the police.

The Social Justice Film Series will likely mark up “137 Shots” as one of its most successful spotlights.

“137 Shots” is available on Netflix.

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