Monday, June 17, 2013


Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station
  Just seen what I consider to be the best movie of the year so far, a little gem called Fruitvale Station from a first-time director with a cast of relative unknowns.
 Packing a powerful emotional punch, it is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old black man who was shot to death by a police officer on the platform of a Metro station in Oakland, California, early on New Year's Day 2009.
 Writer-director Ryan Coogler, a former USC film school student, traces Grant's last 24 hours on earth, leading up to the ill-fated trip he and his friends made to celebrate New Year's Eve in San Francisco. It was on the return journey that a fight broke out, the train was halted and officers pulled half a dozen blacks off the train. Grant was shot as he lay handcuffed on the platform. The shooting was photographed and videoed by several passengers and onlookers on their cell phones.
  Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, who plays Grant, had the cooperation of Grant's family in researching the story. 
   I have a particular interest in the case as I was selected to serve on the jury for the trial of the police officer, Johannes Mehserle, which was moved to Los Angeles because of the passions and protests surrounding the case in Oakland. Because the trial was expected to last several weeks and I could not afford the time I was excused from serving.  
  In a verdict that still provokes protests and an annual New Year's Day rally at Fruitvale Station, Mehserle was eventually acquitted of murder and served just 11 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Activists took issue with the judge's decision to allow the defence attorney to introduce Grant's criminal record in evidence while preventing the prosecutor from bringing up previous misconduct allegations made against Mehserle by a black man.  

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