justifiable homicide

Thurs Oct 17, 7 pm

Guild Theater SW 9th & Taylor, $6.50

Justifiable Homicide is a film based on the case of Antonio Rosario and Hilton Vega. These young men were cousins; both of them were killed by the police in 1995, in what was officially categorized as an attempted robbery. The story follows Margarita Rosario, mother and aunt to the boys, and her fight to uncover the factual circumstances behind their deaths.

A true story, the film relates Rosario's involvement with the Citizen Complaint Review Board in New York City, which launched an investigation of the incident. Immediately, evidence was uncovered that contradicted the official analysis of the situation, which exonerated the shooting officers of any misconduct. As the evidence is gathered, Rosario gains determination and becomes a vocal activist in the campaign for police accountability.

Although the film was obviously made on a modest budget, it uses its resources efficiently, concentrating on the meat of its story. Luckily, its thorough presentation of the case is sufficiently engaging, 'cause you ain't getting any special effects here. Directors Jon Osman and Jonathan Stack wisely strike a balance between stark documentation and emotion.

Two days after the showing of this film, there will be a community march in defense of the 14th amendment and the right to fair and equal treatment by the law. The fact that police brutality receives regular attention in the local press indicates the widespread concern in Portland. A number of local organizations are bringing statistics that show disturbingly disproportionate arrests of minorities to the attention of the public.

One of the most controversial law-enforcement issues in Portland is the enactment of "drug- and prostitution-free zones." One of the concerns that the community march is intended to address is the use of these zones to discriminate and practice racial profiling.

Justifiable Homicide coincides smoothly with the march, and would be worth seeing as a precursor. Although the episode with which the film is concerned happened in the Bronx, it is easy to make a comparison between police/populous relations in our own city. And during a time of nationwide political stress, it is particularly important to end discriminatory acts that fracture our unity.

[Community march for police accountability and to stop racial profiling, Sat Oct 19. Rally 11 am, Mallory Church, 126 NE Alberta. March starts at noon. Closing rally at Irving park at NE 7th and Fremont.] MARJORIE SKINNER