Free KC screening: Documentary on Charleston church shooting offers powerful message

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City police hope you'll show up to hear a big message they're sharing with the help of the big screen.

Leaders believe a movie with ties to a violent night will improve relationships in Kansas City and even help with crime prevention.

"To sum it up in one word: powerful," Officer Jason Cooley said, describing the documentary "Emanuel."

It focuses on the 2015 massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and the impact of the shooting.

"The tragedy was so great, and it impacted the entire world -- not just the families, not just me personally," Rose Simmons said.

Nine people died in the attack. Simmons' father, the Rev. Daniel Simmons, was the second person killed.

"I really understand the anger when you receive a phone call and you're finding out that something terrible has happened to someone that you love," Simmons said.

She said the documentary will ensure the shooting isn't forgotten.

But she also hopes it's much more. Simmons said the goal is to show there's something beyond the anger and sadness of loss.

"We can't start in anger and stay there," she said. "I think it's important that we find another avenue to be able to process through those emotions."

The documentary also touches on race relations, gun violence, faith and forgiveness.

Some feel "Emanuel" and the community discussion held after each screening are so powerful, they'll jumpstart a change we need.

"The message that rings true more than anything else is that message of forgiveness, that message of unity, which is exactly what our city needs," Cooley said.

"We're all Kansas Citians. We need to come together and see each other for who we are and humanize each other and treat each other with dignity and respect."

A free screening is being held at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Uptown Theater. Following the movie, there will be a discussion featuring Rose Simmons, who's now preaching forgiveness after losing her father.

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