New York, NY—Newly discovered and declassified FBI files are the basis for a movie that is available now On Demand—MLK/FBI, which is the first film to uncover the extent of the FBI’s surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Assembly Member Dan Quart (D-73) will be hosting tomorrow a live-streamed screening of the film with an esteemed panel in honor of Black History Month.
A pre-screening panel discussion will include the Assembly Member, as well as the Emmy-winning Director Sam Pollard, Reverend Charles A. Curtis, Harlem activist Virginia Montague and Black Trans Nation Founder and activist T.S. Candii.
We had an opportunity to interview the Assembly Member to ask him about his impressions of the film and its significance as it relates to policing today.
Assembly Member Dan Quart first said that he considers himself lucky to be hosting the pre-screening panel discussion tomorrow, but that the real credit goes to Pollard and his work.
“I am honored that he would choose to work with me to publicize [the film] and really have the discussion about the importance of this film, not just the film in and of itself, but what it means to our generation today on profiling, on the use of law enforcement power and how [the treatment of] Dr. King 50 plus years ago is relevant to the problems we face in New York City today,” said Quart.
One of those problems, although Stop and Frisk was ruled unconstitutional by a judge in 2013, is profiling.
“These practices still exist today with database lists, spreadsheets and practices that are not race neutral and disproportionately affect communities of color in Manhattan,” Quart said.
“So, while these practices were terrible that the FBI employed against Dr. King all these years ago, there is still profiling going on today even after Stop and Frisk was ruled unconstitutional as applied in New York City, so I think it’s more than just a historical film, it’s also relevant for our ideas about police accountability and public safety today.”
The Assembly Member is running to be Manhattan’s next District Attorney. Two pillars of his platform are holding law enforcement accountable for police brutality and ensuring that all Manhattanites feel safe.
We asked him how can he expect to strike a balance between police enforcement while also guaranteeing public safety.
“Public safety and police accountability—we can accomplish both of those goals, and I don’t think holding NYPD officers who engage in excessive force, violence or who are untruthful in any way affects public safety. In fact, that is public safety. So, I think we can reform our criminal justice system, hold the NYPD accountable when appropriate and keep our communities safe, all of which I believe will bring us closer to racial justice,” Quart said.
Back to the film. We asked Quart what did he learn about Dr. King that he didn’t know before.
For Quart, his impressions of Dr. King changed even before he saw the film. For example, when Dr. King gradually oriented towards a more economic and anti-war critique of American society, that was a learning process for Quart.
“He was more popular in the early 1960s when he was fighting desegregation and for people’s voting rights, which any reasonable person could get behind, but when he changed to opposing an unjust war from his perspective, and many others, in Vietnam and really fighting on those core issues of poverty, he became much more unpopular, and for me—that’s not discussed in great detail in the film—but something I myself learned more about Dr. King over the last decade or so,” said Quart.
Members of the public who wish to attend tomorrow’s screening can RSVP here.