Filmmaker Eli Steele said Amazon has blocked a new film about the death of Michael Brown from appearing on its platform and he feels it’s simply because his story “is not the politically correct narrative.”
Brown’s 2014 death sparked massive demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., and around the country, helping solidify the Black Lives Matter movement in the process.
Amazon told Steele, who directed “What Killed Michael Brown?”, via email that the film did not meet the tech giant’s “content quality expectations” and would not be eligible to appear on the service.
“We will not be accepting resubmission of this title and this decision may not be appealed,” Amazon’s email added.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The decision came shortly after Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley essentially predicted the outcome with a piece headlined, “Will Amazon Suppress the True Michael Brown Story?”
Riley wrote that the “fashionable explanation for what happened to Brown” was “so-called systemic racism,” but Steele’s film didn’t fit the typical agenda of mainstream media when telling the story.
Eli’s father, the well-known conservative race scholar Shelby Steele, wrote and narrated the film.[embedded content]
Steele first assumed the email was a result of technical problems with the lengthy process of getting a film to appear on Amazon’s video platform.
“Never once did it occur to me that the film would be rejected for content,” Steele told Fox News. “It was shocking to me… if you watch the film, you hear voices from all over.”
He said Amazon allows other Brown-related films that are the “appropriate narrative,” compared to the one his father penned.
“Our side is not the politically correct narrative,” he said. “We speak the truth… we make no assumptions, no conspiracy, we don’t do any of that. It’s an intellectual film, it’s not a conspiracy film or anything that would warrant being blocked.”
The younger Steele artculated his thoughts with an open letter published online.
“So, there you have it. Cancelled. Plain and simple. To confuse things further, there are other Ferguson related documentaries on the Amazon platform. ‘What Killed Michael Brown?’ would have offered a different perspective. As we made this film, including people from all different walks of life and perspectives, never once did we think that our film would be rejected. It is quite a startling thing to realize that you are on the wrong side of the line that determines what is acceptable in our culture or not,” Eli Steele wrote on the film’s website.
“If they did cancel us because of our differing views, then that is truly sad, especially when black voices speaking truth to power have been repeatedly silenced in America when they do not fit the acceptable narrative,” he added. “What I’m most proud of in this film is the wide diversity of black voices that is raw and unfiltered. Amazon has silenced those voices.”
Civil rights leaders and Brown’s mother reportedly hoped that prosecuting attorney Wesley Bell, who became the county’s first Black prosecutor in January 2019, would reopen the investigation into police officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown six years ago.
Bell told reporters today that his decision was “one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do.”
A federal investigation and a grand jury cleared Wilson of all charges months after Brown’s death in 2014.
Brown, accompanied by his friend, was told to get out of the middle to the street in a residential neighborhood by Wilson, when Brown approached the police vehicle. In the entire altercation, which lasted about 90 seconds, Wilson fired a total of twelve bullets, six of which struck Brown in the front of his body.
Witnesses said Brown, who was unarmed, had his hands up when he was shot, but federal investigators and the grand jury said the evidence showed otherwise.
“What Killed Michael Brown?” is available on Vimeo and the film’s website.
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.