Today I went to go see Fruitvale Station. Unfortunately, it wasn’t playing in a theater near me so I had to travel a little ways to see it, and I am so glad that I did.
If you’re not aware of this film, here’s the back story: Twenty-two year old African American Oscar Grant, III was brutally shot & killed in Oakland on New Year’s Day in 2009 by an overzealous White transit cop named Johannes Mehserle. Johannes was sentenced to 2 years but ended up serving only 11 months in prison. That’s right – 11 months in jail for murdering an unarmed young man.
Not knowing much about the story of Oscar Grant, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I walked into the theater. But 2 minutes into the movie, I was enraged! The movie started off with the live shooting of Oscar Grant (what I’ve attached here) and sets the tone for the rest of the film. This movie shows the kind of man that Oscar was – an imperfect one, but a seemingly good father and completely innocent young man. His whole objective that night was to celebrate New Year’s with his friends and get home safely by taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) instead of driving. But he never made it home. Transit cop Mehserle claims that he was reaching for his taser to calm Oscar down but instead grabbed his gun and shot Oscar in the back while he was lying on the ground defenseless.
Riots & protests ensued in the days following Oscar Grant’s murder, some peaceful and some violent. I can only imagine the heartache that Ms. Wanda Johnson felt in losing her son Oscar considering that he was unarmed & not dangerous. Barely old enough to drink, he simply wanted to ring in the New Year without any trouble. There can’t be any worse way to start off your New Year than to learn that your son’s life was unexpectedly & unjustifiably taken. But through it all, she still fights for hope in our justice system and redemption for her son’s execution.
I did feel as though the movie was incomplete. Before the end credits rolled there was a status update letting us know what happened to Oscar’s family & the transit cop that killed him. However, the battle shouldn’t end with his death. Connect with the Oscar Grant Foundation, whose mission is in part to “Provide comfort, needs assessment, emergency counseling and resource referral information to assist the family through the initial aftermath of a traumatic event caused by violence and treatment for the emotional injuries sustained at the hands of law enforcement officers.”
Fruitvale Station won two awards in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival: the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature & the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film. This film stars Academy Award® winner Octavia Spencer and is playing nationwide in a theater near you.