August 4th 2013
On New Year’s Day 2009 Oscar Grant was fatally shot by a BART police officer after a fight broke out on the train, although he was unarmed , with his face on the floor, and handcuffed.
This is the opening scene in Fruitvale Station shown from the perspective of a camera phone. The screen cuts to black as the gunshots are fired and the cries of a frightened crowd rise.
This event sparked up major controversy in several different ways. It elevated the racial tensions between black and white people, and loosened the trust between the public and police force, especially in the Bay Area. Born and raised in the Bay, I was exposed to the protests and the riots. They weren’t always peaceful, or orderly, in fact I’d say, many were violent and aggressive, with crowds destroying and vandalizing property. In response, I’d hear small comments such as, “these people are just as bad” “they wonder why they get shot up” etc. I didn’t think too much of any of it. I just knew it was all unfortunate.
A few weeks ago I was sitting in my living room with a few friends and I was telling them how much I wanted to see Fruitvale Station. It so happens to be that the opening of the movie was around the same time that the Trayvon Martin case came to a ruling: Not Guilty. (QUICK if you didn’t know- Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by George Zimmerman a neighborhood watch for a gated community. It’s worth reading about if you haven’t.) One way or another the conversation led to me saying “It’s so horrible what happened to these guys.” And one of my friends actually had the audacity to tell me, “I don’t know, not that I think its okay that they died, I feel bad, but sometimes I feel like they had it coming to them and they put themselves in that position.” I didn’t realized how much I cared until that moment. I asked them “Should a women get raped because she is wearing a skirt?” “You’ve smoked weed before. Do you think it makes it okay to be killed because you’ve done that?” I’m not even sure if those comparisons were relevant. But it shut them up and changed the topic. I was so angry. How could they see only one side of a person?
This is what makes Fruitvale Station such a special movie to me. They depict Oscar Grant on his last day, as he was, a HUMAN. It shows exactly what I was trying to explain to my friends. It was an awful movie in such a beautiful way. It left me in streaming tears. Definitely worth seeing.
At the very end of the movie, it reminds us that the officer who shot him was sentenced with 2 years of prison for INVOULUNTARY manslaughter and got out in just 11 months.
Instead of a movie moral I’ll leave it at that.:
Something to think about.