Note: This article contains mention and video of a police interaction currently under investigation, which may be hard for some to view.
I’ve been obsessed with true crime shows for a while, but I was too stunned to speak when I saw the trailer for Colin Kaepernick’s new series, Killing County.
The three-part documentary concentrates on the failures and misdeeds of law enforcement in Bakersfield, California — my hometown. It’s a crisis I understand all too well.
To give you some insight into the documentary, Kaepernick broke it down into three simple, but devastatingly true, statistics.
Years back, as a closeted queer Black kid, I tried to ignore all the dangers associated with growing up in Bakersfield.
But the death of Tyre Nichols and the ongoing conversation about police brutality urged me to face every moment of this trailer. Every passing second seemed to bring up memories that left me sad, frustrated, and embarrassed to call this place home.
The trailer opens with Colin warning, “This is one of the most powerful projects I’ve ever been involved with.”
Then a woman says, “I knew the homicide rate in Bakersfield was high. I didn’t really know what that meant. Until I got here.”
Next, we’re told Bakersfield has “the deadliest law enforcement in the country per capita” as the screen pans across a 2015 article from the Guardian investigating the police force.
Then, a narrator, over a hauntingly slowed down version of Dwight Yoakam’s “Streets of Bakersfield,” says that Bakersfield has “the highest rate of officer-involved deaths than anywhere in the country.”
When I’m forced to see another unarmed person murdered by law enforcement overwhelming the news cycle, I’m immediately transported back to my worst memories of Bakersfield — as the trailer describes, “where more than a couple of bad officers” reside.
Killing County is a reminder that the violent history of the policing of people in the United States is not just a news headline or political hot topic. For many of us, it’s our reality.