Fruitvale, the Movie About Oscar Grant is Powerful, Haunting and Moving

Oscar Grant FruitvaleJust saw the movie ‘Fruitvale‘ which is about Oscar Grant. It focuses on the last 24 hours of his life.. I gotta say it was a very powerful movie..I was moved to tears… Thank you film maker/ director  Ryan Coogler. Thank you Forest Whitaker. Thank you Octavia Spencer and to all the other actors and actresses etc who brought this important story to life..

This is a haunting & moving film that needed to be done..It brings out Oscar Grant’s humanity and in doing so it reminds us of the humanity for many of the others who have died needlessly at the hands of the police.. I found myself thinking about Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham, Rekia Boyd, Amadu Diallo and countless others..

For 18 long months people in the Bay Area organized, protested & gave a lot of themselves to bring about some sort of justice around Oscar Grant’s murder. In the mist of all that intense organizing Oscar became a symbol..He became the iconic picture of him smiling and wearing his skull-cap..

Oscar Grant w/ his Daughter

Oscar Grant w/ his Daughter

Fruitvale reminded us that Oscar was a father, son, a fiance and a friend. The movie shows Oscar was not perfect and at age 22 like so many was still growing and still connecting..This is important when you consider how much we’ve been dehumanized in both the news & on TV. I can easily see that for some seeing Oscar not being depicted as a stereotypes or in over simplistic one-dimensional caricature will be hard for some to accept…. Our inhumanity is so ingrained seeing ourselves outside that box will be a breath of fresh air for many of us and problematic for others.. I’m glad they broke the mold..

The movie also crystallizes how inhumane and vicious the police were that night on BART and how they behaved and lied in front of hundreds of witnesses… They not only all needed to be fired, but they also needed to be charged and carted off to jail.. It’s still astounding that for 7 days after Oscar was murdered those officers walked around free with no charges brought against them until the community erupted..The lead officer Tony Pirone was especially insidious in his behavior..He was the one who punched Grant in the face and called him a bitch ass nigger just before he was shot.. Officer Marysol Domenici who was first on the scene lied and exaggerated about the scene was fired but later reinstated.

Fruitvale will also be important to see as the Trayvon Martin trial unfolds.. Trayvon’s humanity was snuffed by vigilante George Zimmerman & scarred by media and I think as we see the humanity in Oscar shown in the big screen many will be able to draw parallels to other  situations. Again it was a powerful and necessary film..whats stands out to me is the close relationship Oscar has with both his mother and his young daughter Tatiana.. His love for her is priceless.

Lastly many have asked if the movie focused on the intense organizing and unrest that followed in the wake of Grant’s murder..The film doesn’t touch on that. It shows the last 24 hours of Grant’s life. To be honest, I’m glad Fruitvale left that part alone. There’s no way that story could be told and be done justice. My fear if the film makers had attempted to tackle that there would be important aspects left out..

Several protesters lie face down on the ground in front of of riot

Several protesters lie face down on the ground in front of riot police emulating Oscar Grant before he was shot

The Oscar Grant Movement will forever be special for the Bay Area. It was large, multicultural and involved folks from all walks of life and various political stripes with a lot of important moving parts. Many gave much of their time, effort, blood sweat and tears and managed to find ways to come together, have impact and keep the pressure on long after national media stopped reporting on this… The OGM is a story onto itself and ideally it should be one told by the community in a variety of ways, documentaries, plays, books and a movie where all those who played key roles are seriously consulted and their stories not compromised.

The movie ends in such a way that the important stories around OGM can be picked up where Fruitvale leaves off..  Once this film drops I hope those seeing it in other parts of the country reach out to not only to the Grant family members, but also Oscar friends who were on the platform with him that night, and members of the community who were involved in the organizing and allow them to fill in the gaps and give this movie additional context. Salute to the film makers this was a job well done..

-Davey D-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxUJwJfcQaQ

Explosive Report from MXGM Reveals: Every 40 hours Police in the US Kill a Black Person

Some of the families of loved ones slain by police in Northern California

This past weekend at Everett & Jones restaurant in Jack London Square, there was a gathering of more than 10 mothers and members of their family who have all lost sons, daughters and husbands to police violence over the past 2 years…It was sobering, powerful and healing. It was also shocking to see so many families and hear story after story of how they lost loved ones to police terror. We heard from the mothers of Kenneth Harding, Derick Jones, Derrick Gaines, Rahiem Brown Jr, James Rivera and Oscar Grant..all gunned down by police.

The families came together for the second anniversary of Oscar Grant Verdict Day.. This was the day that a jury in Los Angeles, handed down their controversial decision about Johannes Mehserle, the killer cop who shot an unarmed handcuffed Oscar Grant in the back at point-blank range in front of hundreds of BART subway riders in Oakland, Ca on New Years morning 2009. Millions of people all over the world saw the shocking video and just knew that Mehersle would go to jail for a long time over his egregious actions.

On July 8th 2010, the LA jury came back with a verdict of involuntary manslaughter which left thousands of people who had gathered in downtown Oakland stunned. Adding insult to injury,  the Grant verdict was overshadowed by another ‘controversial decision’ being made that day-What basketball team NBA star Lebron James would choose. Many in the national media gave their time and attention to James and the NBA while folks in Oakland and the Bay Area were left pondering the injustice that was served before them after 18 long months of organizing and jumping over legal hurdle after legal hurdle.

Many that day walked away thinking that while the verdict was unjust that hopefully police got the message and would change their ways. There would be more caution and concern exercised by police departments, not just in Oakland, but all over the country.  This weekends gathering was proof that if anything the Grant verdict emboldened police to act with reckless abandon.

Unarmed Rekia Boyd was shot in the head by a Chicago Cop

Instead of a decline in police violence we seen a marked increase. Since the Grant verdict day, we’ve seen an outrageous 680 thousand people stopped and frisked in New York with over 90% of those stops being Black and Brown men with less than 5% resulting in any weapons recovered. Stop and Frisk led to the shooting death of unarmed Ramarley Graham We’ve seen police shoot a motorist Hernendez L Dowdy in Memphis, Tn after someone falsely accused him of car jacking.  We’ve seen police in Pasadena shoot 19-year-old Kendrec McDade falsely accused of stealing a computer. We seen an officer in Chicago shoot an innocent bystander named Rekia Boyd after he mistakenly thought the man standing next to her had a gun.. We seen police in White Plains New York shoot unarmed army vet, a senior citizen named Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.. who accidently set off his medical alert pendant. The officer at the center of the killing has a sordid history of brutality and racism. .. We seen Oakland police shoot high school senior Alan Bluford in the back and then lie about the self-inflicted wound the officer suffered. He shot himself and blamed Bluford. OPD has still refused to officially identify the officer.

We could go on for days citing story after story along with the fact that in many cities all over the United States police brutality incidents and police killing civilians are on the rise..For example, in Los Angeles which was supposed to have drastically reformed their police department, we seen a huge increase in police shootings. The department tried to blame it on citizens attacking them more. That assertion has since been disputed.Whats crazy about LA is that police pushed to get the city council to support a law that will keep officers records sealed from the public.

The bottom line is this.. Police are out of control and when it comes to Black people they are even more so..Today the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement released a Report on Extrajudicial Killings …Its pretty detailed and extensive.. It shows that since Jan 1 2012 , they have documented 110 Black people being killed. That amounts to one Black person being killed by police every 40 hours.. Since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin police and shot and killed over 80 Black people..This is outrageous and unacceptable..

Here’s the official press release and links to the report..

“Report on Extrajudicial Killings of 110 Black People since January 1st, 2012.”

Every 40 hours in the United States one Black woman, man or child is killed by police, and by a smaller number of security guards and self-appointed vigilantes.  These are the startling findings of a new Report on Extrajudicial Killings of Black People released July 9, 2012.

What motivated the round-the-clock research for this new Report?  More than two years ago, on New Year’s Eve, police killed two innocent men: Oscar Grant in Oakland, Adolph Grimes in New Orleans and shot Robert Tolan in a Houston suburb. Based on research started in 2009 after those murders, we learned there were a lot more killings that had not yet been uncovered. Then, after Trayvon’s murder, there was a huge public outcry and a few headlines about more killings. More grieving families and more calls for investigation. Further research became urgent and it demonstrated that Trayvon’s death was not an isolated tragedy. Between January 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012, at least 110 Black people were killed by police and their “deputies”.

“Any one of these people killed could have been my son or your husband or daughter”, says Arlene Eisen, member of the Malcolm X Solidarity Committee and co-author of the Report.

Rosa Clemente of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement elaborates, “Nowhere is a Black woman or man safe from racial profiling, invasive policing, constant surveillance, and overriding suspicion.  All Black people – regardless of education, class, occupation, behavior or dress – are subject to the whims of the police in this epidemic of state initiated or condoned violence.”

The Report, produced by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) and the “No More Trayvon Martins” campaign, is part of a larger effort. Kali Akuno, MXGM member and report co-author explained, “The Report shows how people of African descent remain subjected to institutionalized racist policies and procedures that arbitrarily stop, frisk, arrest, brutalize and even execute Black people. The killing will continue despite calls for investigations and lawsuits. We urge people to read this Report and join us in demanding that the Obama administration implement a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice to stop these killings and other human rights violations being committed by the government”.

To read the report visit www.mxgm.org. For information on the petition visit http://www.ushrnetwork.org/content/webform/trayvon-martin-petition.

Jasiri X

On Tuesday July 10th we will be doing a special broadcast on 94.1 fm KPFA at 8am PST.. www.kpfa.org This broadcast will include members of MXGM as well as family members who lost loved ones to police violence.. There will also be information on upcoming actions to take place around police violence. We will also be premiering a new song from Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X called Riot which addresses the police violence and this report..

Serious Injustice from Coast to Coast: Family of Oscar Grant & Marissa Alexander

The Grant Family, Uncle Bobby, Oscar Grant’s Mother-in law and Grant’s mother Wanda Johnson

Yesterday I attended  a press conference where the family, friends and supporters Oscar Grant came to speak out about something hideous. The family, like everyone else in the Bay Area found out through local news reports that the person who murdered Oscar Grant, former BART cop Johannes Mehserle went to court to file an appeal. There’s a strong possibility, given the way things have been MIS-HANDLED in court, the walking psychopath may have his felony record expunged and be reinstated as a police officer… Yes you read that correctly..

During the press conference, Grant’s family cited the state law for victim rights which clearly notes the family was supposed to be notified of any appeal by Mehserle appeal.. The Alameda County DA Nancy E O’Malley admitted her office ‘made a mistake’ in not contacting them..That in turn enraged the Grant family and supporters even more..

‘How many mistakes are people in this justice system who are supposed to protect the people, going to make? asked Cephus ‘Uncle Bobby’ Johnson..

During his remarks he read a list of mistakes made all throughout the proceedings including the big blunder by presiding  judge Robert Perry who said he ‘made a mistake’ in giving the jury instructions hence he had to reduce key sentencing components to Mehserle’s sentencing..

You can hear the press conference at the link below

As this heart-wrenching press conference was unfolding, we got word about another grave Meanwhile in Fla a sista named Marissa Alexander just got sentenced to 20 yrs for shooting a gun at ceiling to protect herself from an abusive husband who had a restraining order and had beaten her while pregnant.. When he violated the restraining order and attempted to beat her again,Ms Alexander who legally owned a gun shot the gun into the ceiling to scare him away.. Florida where Ms Alexander is from has the infamous ‘stand your ground law‘, but it was disallowed as a defense.. Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison.. her three kids have not seen their mother since the incident a year ago.. Talk about injustice..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htVE9qrzyWk