Violent Protests Persist From “Fruitvale Station” Through Trayvon Trial

By Lora Neng
July 15, 2013

With nearly perfect timing, just a day apart, the announcement of George Zimmerman’s verdict of not guilty for the murder if an unarmed black teen followed the opening of “Fruitvale Station,” a dramatization of another black man being gunned down with minimized penalties.

Zimmerman’s coming out of trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin with an acquittal under an argument of self-defense was not surprising to many, given that selected jurors were all women with only one non-white in the box, but the general public was not complacent. Protests sprung up across the country that crossed racial lines, and many hip-hop luminaries took to Twitter voicing their disapproval. Juelz Santana tweeted, “An they wonder y We Hold court in The street!!” Twista: “I am speechless, not guilty!! A child is dead and this nig gonna walk???” Charlamagne Tha God: “The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn’t.”

At Fruitvale Station in 2009, unarmed Oscar Grant was lying face down, so ordered by BART police officers responding to report of a fight, when he was shot in the back–an incident that, despite being captured by numerous metro riders, resulted in a finding of not guilty for second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter, though guilty for involuntary manslaughter. The offending officer Johannes Mehserle served two years in jail.

Although the new film “Fruitvale Station” aims to raise awareness of social inequity, both victims are not without personal faults, and the issue of race remains too complex to be accurately portrayed in a medium that demands a story with resolution. Responses to both incidents in Oakland have continued with demonstrations of violence in the streets and attacks on artists who have dedicated songs to a fallen youth.

Photo credit: AP/Bay Area News Group, Anda Chu

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