“Hold Your Fire,” a new documentary directed by Stefan Forbes, centers on Harvey Schlossberg, a police officer whose pioneering negotiation skills helped end one of the longest hostage sieges in the department’s history. NYPD.
In January 1973, an attempted robbery at a sporting goods store in Brooklyn quickly escalates, and the film suggests that Schlossberg’s intervention may have saved the lives of the four young black men at the center of the dispute.
Led by Shu’aib Raheem, the four young men planned to steal firearms to arm themselves against attacks by members of the Nation of Islam, which targeted Sunni Muslims. Police assumed they were part of the Black Liberation Army and surrounded the store, sparking a 47-hour standoff. Tensions rose after a shooting resulted in the death of an officer, leaving his colleagues eager for retaliation.
In the film, Schlossberg is presented as a savior who, with the support of Patrick Murphy, the police commissioner, diverts the police from violence. But through interviews with lawyers, police, hostages and men involved in the robbery, what emerges is a kaleidoscopic narrative that lays bare the disconnect between police officers and the communities they serve.
It was only after members of the black community rose up in protest, in response to officers threatening to drive a tank into the store, that Schlossberg’s de-escalation tactics were implemented. The intention of the film may have been to highlight the Negotiator’s success, but it seems to have been public pressure, as much as influence, that prevented more bloodshed.
Hold your fire
Unclassified. Duration: 1h33. In theaters and available for rental or purchase on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay-TV operators.