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A poor dramatization of the Trayvon Martin case

Michaela's picture

(image and link to video under "Read More")

The Canadian police procedural TV show "Rookie Blue" is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. Its tagline is that it's like "Grey's Anatomy" with rookie cops, and it shows the day to day lives, cases, and yes, romantic travails of 5 rookies and their superiors. This past summer, the show (in its 3rd season) had a storyline where one of the rookies, Epstein, shoots a young black man, Tyler Marks, in a convenience store because he believes that there is a robbery in progress. Tyler is wearing a hoodie and "looks suspicious" in some way to Epstein, and Epstein thinks Tyler has a gun, so he pulls out his gun and shoots, wounding Tyler fatally. In the investigation following Tyler's death, the Internal Affairs department questions Epstein's belief that Tyler was holding a weapon of any kind. This episode reminded me a lot of the Trayvon Martin case, in which a young black man was shot essentially for wearing a hoodie and being black. I had hoped that the show would address the underlying racism of Epstein's actions, and find him guilty of murdering Tyler without cause. But, instead, to make the show lighter and keep Epstein's name clean, it is decided that he was not wrong to shoot Tyler, because there was another young black man in the store who was actually robbing it, and so Epstein had "valid" concerns for his own safety. 

I realize that this does not exactly fit in with the assignment to put an image to schools and prisons, but, especially given our discussion in class yesterday about media representation of criminality and race, I wanted to express my frustration that "Rookie Blue" did not address its Trayvon Martin inspired storyline with enough thought given to the criminalization of black bodies, and instead seemed to keep its aim on showing how noble its protagonist cops are. 

Here's the promo for the episode

And a photo of a protester of Trayvon Martin's murder, a much more powerful depiction of the racism and prejudice that went into Trayvon's real murder, and Tyler Marks' fictional one.



Serendip Visitor's picture

Trayvon? Really? How?

The Trayvon Martin case had nothing to do with a police shooting.

Also, Dov did not pull his gun because the kid was wearing a hoodie and was suspicious. He was behind the counter and acting suspiciously like he did not work there. He shot because the kid had a gun and he was fired at.

You also missed the point of the second person robbing the store. It's not that the kid behind the counter didn't shoot at Dov and that Dov only got away with it because there was a second robber. The point was that police did not find a gun, so they questioned Dov's story about seeing a gun. When Nash interrogated him, he said he heard "POP POP". Two shots. And they found the bullet hole in the wall. So someone did shoot at Dov. But where did the gun go? Enter the second robber who snuck in and took the gun.

Michaela's picture

Owl, you're right about the

Owl, you're right about the storyline--I got it mixed up I think because it sort of seemed unclear to me whether Tyler had the gun or his friend who Epstein didn't see had the gun, but I think you're right. I was trying to get across a general point about the overarching racism within law enforcement, so I think we agree on that! 

Owl's picture

Rookie Blue is a guilty

Rookie Blue is a guilty pleasure of mine too. But I do have to say that I find that there is a bit of an oversight on your analysis. Epstein did not find him suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie, but rather because he was standing behind the counter where he shouldn't have been. Furthermore, the kid had a gun! Epstein didn't "think" he saw a gun, he did. In his line of questioning by IA he doesn't seem to be as forefront with this information as he should have been because he was in shock. I can't argue with you that the similarities to the Treyvon case are there, but I think what is more interesting about this episode is the play on law enforcement and racism.