By Vincent Cortez
When I stepped into the Marsh Theater in Berkeley Ca. to meet Jinho “the Piper” Ferreira I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d seen a brief excerpt from his one man show, “Cops and Robbers”, which immediately impressed me – but for this particular story I wouldn’t just be asking questions about his play, but asking questions about his job as a Sheriff’s Deputy.
I showed up early to the theater in hopes that I would be able to shoot some of the prep. Not only was I able to do that – I was able to sit down with with Piper and conduct our first interview. His story came to life as he recalled the road he took to get to where he is: a road filled with reflective experiences that guided him to work in his community as both an artist and as person seeking to genuinely protect and serve. I filmed his show that night – including the open dialog he holds at the end of each show, a “talkback”, where he invites a member of law enforcement on stage to talk about what they do and answer audience questions.
Given the history of negative police activity in minority communities, Piper is preaching and practicing the only true solution to the problem: the community should encourage and create it’s own police. There is an investment and a value that a member of law enforcement has when the people that you serve are the people you live with. You learn to fight not against the people, but the circumstances and scenarios that drive people into criminal acts.
From that point I would spend a few more windows of time, following Piper around while he was in uniform, observing the positive work he is doing, including his role at the Community/Youth Center. My time conversing and interacting with Piper, both with the camera rolling and when it was off, give me hope for a brighter future when it comes to law enforcement and it’s relationship with community.
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