Using footage shot by the media and the government, Riotsville, USA explores the militarization of the police and the reaction of a nation to the uprisings of the late ’60s, creating a counter-narrative to a critical moment in the country’s history.
Welcome to RIOTSVILLE, USA, a turning point in American history where the protest movements of the late 1960s came into conflict with increasingly militarized police departments. Focusing on military training footage of Army-built model towns called “Riotsvilles,” where military and police were trained to respond to civil disorder in the aftermath of the Kerner Commission created by President Lyndon B. Johnson, director Sierra Pettengill’s kaleidoscopic all-archival documentary reconstructs the formation of a national consciousness obsessed with maintaining law and order by any means necessary. Drawing insight from a time similar to our own, RIOTSVILLE, USA pulls focus on American institutional control and offers a compelling case that if the history of race in America rhymes, it is by design. Directed by Sierra Pettengill and produced by Sara Archambault & Jamila Wignot.