Target: Fruitvale Station Director/Screenwriter Ryan Coogler, Producers Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi, Cast and Crew
Goal: Thank those who collaborated on the film for stepping forward with a story wrought with heartbreak and controversy from an on-the-ground perspective
Returning from their New Year’s Celebration in San Francisco, Oscar Grant and his friends were pulled off the BART train (Bay Area Rapid Transit) by police after report of a fight. While unarmed, prone, and handcuffed, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was fatally shot in the back by police officer Johannes Mehserle, and the year 2009 began with a tragedy for the San Francisco Bay Area. Later arguing he confused his taser with his loaded gun, Mehserle was charged with first-degree murder, or manslaughter, and was released after serving less than a year in prison.
Grant’s story has sparked enormous outrage and some controversy both locally –with Oakland and East Bay protestors demanding an end to unjust profiling of African American men— and nationally, after videos taken on BART bystanders’ phone cameras went viral on YouTube. Named for the BART stop at which Grant was killed, this award-winning film takes viewers into the last day of Grant’s life as he struggles to be a better son, boyfriend, and father.
Denying audiences the temptation to dismiss the film as yet another true-story based feature, Fruitvale Station‘s nuanced portrayal of Oscar Grant reveals both his inner demons and his earnest, at times misdirected paths to a start fresh. In scenes of Oakland and the Fruitvale BART station itself, viewers witness his slightly ominous request for re-employment at “Farmer Joe’s” preceding his generous assistance of a customer looking to fry fish “Southern style.” We see Grant coming clean to his girlfriend Sophina about getting fired 2 weeks prior and discarding marijuana he was supposed to sell. We dread the expletive-laden protests of Grant and his friends before the shooting. In its 90 minutes of simple music and ordinary lighting, the film fulfills its intention: to show Oscar Grant as more than a headline or a figure in a blurry video, as a man trying to turn his life around before it was abruptly, violently taken from him.
By signing the petition below, you can commend the production for giving a voice to both an underrepresented community and a now voiceless man made to suffer a heartrending tragedy.
Dear Ryan Coogler, Forest Whitaker, Nina Yang Bongiovi, and the Cast and Crew of Fruitvale Station,
I would like to thank each of you for stepping forward to tell the story of Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station. Thank you for portraying him as he was, a human being first and foremost, and communicating the heartrending tragedy of his killing. Your efforts allow us to think more deeply about the circumstances and implications of this tragedy, and help us to perceive Oscar Grant as more than a headline or a figure in a YouTube video, but as a person like us, struggling to turn his life around before it was abruptly and violently taken from him.
I commend you for offering hope with this film in the opportunity for conversation over racism that persists on many levels of our society. Fruitvale Station also helps raise concern over armed violence, a painfully relevant topic in light of the killing of Trayvon Martin. To spark hope that people can change their situations, Fruitvale Station underlies the necessity of embracing mistakes and forgiving others theirs, because, considering Oscar Grant’s case, life is precious and truly fragile. You have given us so much more than a film. Rather, Fruitvale Station imparts a grave, but sincere message on respecting life and one another.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Demian Bulwa via sfgate.com