“Fruitvale Station” screening leaves students speechless


Still from the 2013 film “Fruitvale Station.” (Courtesy image)

Celia Jimenez

City College’s Black History month celebration came to an end on Feb. 27 with the showing of the award winning film “Fruitvale Station,” based on the true story of Oscar Grant and his death at hands of a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle on New Years Day 2009.

The film, released in 2013, stars Michael B. Jordan as Grant and Chad Michael Murray as Officer Ingram, the BART officer based on Mehserle. “Fruitvale Station” has won numerous awards including the prestigious Best First Film award at Cannes Film Festival and the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

The story starts out with a look into Grant’s everyday life and his desire to become a better person. Towards the end of the film while celebrating the New Year on a train, Grant and his friends get involved in a fight. They were taken out of train and detained by BART officers. Grant, frustrated that he was being detained without proof, pleaded with the officer to leave.

At the climax of the film a BART officer makes Grant lay face down on the pavement and holds Grant’s head down with his knee. As Ingram struggled to handcuff Grant he became enraged and fatally shot Grant at a point blank range.

When the film concluded the audience at this showing was left in an uncomfortable silence. The uncomfortable silence turned into angry disbelief as information about Mehserle’s trial and sentencing appeared on the screen. The former BART officer was charged with involuntary manslaughter because his argument was that he confused his gun for his Taser. He was sentenced to two years in prison but only served 11 months.

During the discussion after the film a student with a military background commented that there was no way that a person can confuse a Taser with a gun because they have different shapes and a different feel from one another.

The majority of students felt like it was a case of racial profiling and police brutality. Another student in the audience brought up the point that they felt it’s always minorities that are victims of these kinds of crimes and and that the aggressors always get away with the crime or serve a lesser sentence.

“Fruitvale Station” is more then just the story about the death of Oscar Grant. The film shows what many young minorities faces on a daily basis. It brings to light that the issues of profiling and police brutality are still an unresolved issue plaguing not only society but the criminal justice system too. It is evident throughout the film that something needs to be done about these concerns before more incidents like Grant’s or Trayvon Martin’s happen.