Fruitvale Station Panel Discussion w/ Cast and Director at Oakland Premier

Fruitvale station oscar daughterThis weekend the movie Fruitvale Station opens up nationwide..Its the true story of Bay Area resident Oscar Grant who was brutally murdered Jan 1 2009 by an out of control transit cop named Johannes Mehserle.. For folks in Oakland and the Bay Area, Oscar’s death which was caught on tape by multiple cameras was a shock, especially 3 weeks before the inauguration of the nation’s first Black president Barack Obama..

His murder led to 18 long months of protests, organizing and agitating resulting in a conviction of Mehserle..Sadly, he served less than two years thanks to the bias rulings of a pro-cop Los Angeles judge named Robert Perry who every step of the way manipulated things to favor this renegade cop.

The movie Fruitvale Station is powerful, gripping, moving and healing.. Director Ryan Coogler deserves lots of praise for doing a movie that focused on Grant’s last 24 hours.. It highlighted his humanity and the relationships he had with his family, friends, fiance and daughter..This was lost during the trial and the protests, many forgot or never really got to know who Oscar was flaws, good parts and all..Actors Michael B Jordan, Melonie Diaz and Octavia Spencer bring their A game to this flick and give us lots to grow on.

After the Oakland premier, I got a chance to host an incredible panel discussion, featuring all the cast members and key folks who worked magic behind the scenes like famed actor Forest Whitaker.. Our convo was wide-ranging and compelling as we discussed everything from their inspiration as actors to the impact police brutality has had on their personally.. Click the link below to peep what was said..

Fruitvale station cast

HKR-Fruitvale Station-Oscar Grant Panel

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