This article describes the way documentary films can provide important cultural context in the assessment of tort claims. This kind of contextual analysis exposes the social conditions that drive legal disputes. For example, in the case of Klayman v. Obama, Larry Klayman claimed that Black Lives Matter, among other defendants, was liable for various intentional torts (including intentional infliction of emotional distress) by fomenting hostility toward the police in black communities. The court dismissed the case but declined to hold Klayman liable for sanctions. One documentary film, I Am Not Your Negro, locates Klayman’s claims in a historical tradition of white resistance to black self-assertion. Another, Whose Streets?, focuses on the protests in Ferguson triggered by the police killing of Michael Brown. In its depiction of discriminatory practices by the Ferguson city government, police violence, and the humanity of the protestors, Whose Streets? provides a compelling counter-narrative to Klayman’s complaint.
Austin, Regina, "A Dose of Color, A Dose of Reality: Contextualizing Intentional Tort Actions with Black Documentaries" (2018). Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law. 2187.
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