Oscar Grant shooting death: Film delivers a vital message

By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Oakland
June 28, 2013

Director Ryan Coogler, left, and actor Michael B. Jordan at the BART Fruitvale station. Both believe they could have easily been in Grant’s shoes. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

After putting in a full day at UPS, Wanda Johnson rushed to change from her work clothes into a sapphire blue gown.

When she arrived at the Grand Lake Theater, she looked red-carpet ready — her dress flowing, not a hair out of place — but her heart was pounding. So she sat down in the lobby, placed her hands delicately on her lap and surveyed the chaos: cameras flashing, popcorn spilling, movie fans standing tiptoe trying to glimpse Hollywood stars on hand for the Northern California premiere of “Fruitvale Station.”

It was a film about her son, Oscar Grant III. Soon, she was going to watch him die on screen — for the third time.

Four and a half years ago, Grant, 22, was shot by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer on the Fruitvale station platform, only five miles from the theater.

The African American father was returning with friends from New Year’s Eve celebrations in San Francisco when a fight broke out on his train. At the Fruitvale stop, authorities pulled the unarmed Grant aside, forcibly restrained him and pinned him to the ground as onlookers captured the scene with cellphones.

The 2009 footage — ending with a single gunshot — quickly went viral, inciting protests and riots in Oakland.

“I’m the one who told him to take BART, thinking he would be safe,” said Johnson, tears threatening to ruin the makeup she had put on for the premiere. “I didn’t want them to be out there drinking and driving…. And he said, ‘OK, Mama, I’ll take BART for you.'”

Reliving the past while lending her support to “Fruitvale Station” over the last few months has stirred the guilt she feels from Grant’s death and led to surreal moments of glamour amid her sadness.

Read more here: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-mn-fruitvale-oakland-20130628-dto,0,7260740.htmlstory

stef Posted by on Jun 28 2013. Filed under Policing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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