'Cops and Robbers' depicts police tension

'Cops and Robbers' depicts police tension

Jinho "The Piper" Ferreira wrote the play "Cops and Robbers," based off of real experiences and people he met, in only four days. CW | Jacqueline Henderson

One man became 17 characters Friday night, as local students and theater goers took to the Tuscaloosa River Market to witness a one-man play centered on the fallout from a police shooting in a small community.

Jinho “The Piper” Ferreira is a deputy sheriff with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in Oakland, California. Ferreira wrote the play “Cops and Robbers,” based off of real experiences and people he met. The play took him only four days to complete.

The play depicts a community after a shooting involving a police officer and a parolee, and the characters range from the police officer and suspect themselves to a preacher, a judge and a news broadcaster, among others.

Ferreira’s wife, Dawn Williams Ferreira, opened the show by explaining to audience members the content may be too deep to digest at once. Dawn Ferreira has been teaching in public schools for 12 years and said by nature of the work she does with her husband, they often bring work home 
with them.

Kindle Williams, a junior majoring in chemical engineering and chemistry, helped foster the plan to get “Cops and Robbers” to Tuscaloosa; the play has never been performed east of the Mississippi River. She said it is important to continue a dialogue regarding racial relations.

“I think when Officer Ferreira is analyzing things, he just comes from all these different perspectives because he’s had so many experiences,” Williams said. “I think this really helps get at the complexity of the issue and that’s something that we need to keep 
in mind.”

Fred Brown, a freshman majoring in criminal justice, said he enjoyed watching Ferreira successfully portray the 
diverse characters.

“I think he plays the characters very well,” he said. “It tells a good story of today’s problems.”

The plot of “Cops and Robbers” begins as coverage of a police 
dispute with a parolee. As the play progresses and identities and underlying motives were revealed, the dialogue of each of the 
characters changed.

It was later revealed that the police officer and suspect had grown up in the same neighborhood, both were black and the cop shot the suspect after he laid his weapon down due to a problem the two had beforehand. The suspect sold the cop’s niece into a prostitution ring when she was just 13, which eventually lead to her death.

Ultimately, the play showed the different ideologies and perspectives regarding police and civilian relations as well as racial relations within the Oakland community. Ferreira wrote the play in 2012, and said all the issues it explores are still relevant today.

Ferreira said his main motivation for writing the play was to encourage people to see the world through another’s eyes.

“I want people to take a look at where the other guy is coming from so that we can evolve as a society,” he said. “I don’t think we can realistically come up with a solution without addressing other people’s beliefs, needs and desires.”

Ferreira said he is currently working on a sequel to the play.

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