Does this sound familiar to anyone? No? It didn’t me either. To be honest when I rented the movie, all I knew about it was that it had Michael B. Jordan in it, and that it had won a bunch of awards at Sundance (not that I cared much about that, I was only interested in MBJ). That’s it. I literally had zero idea what the plot was, I didn’t know that Octavia Spencer was in it, or whether it was even in english. That is how little I knew about it.
And now, I can’t stop thinking about it.
This movie revealed two hard truths to me this weekend:
#1.) I am scarily unobservant.
#2.) Humanity is not as honorable as I like to think.
For those of you out of the loop, like I was, the movie is based on the true story of Oscar Grant. Grant was shot and killed by a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) officer on the platform in Fruitvale station in the early morning hours of January 1, 2009. He was 22-years-old, and had a four-year-old daughter. Grant was shot in front of dozens of BART passengers, many of which recorded the incident with their camera phones.
In the movie we see that Oscar Grant is flawed. He cheated on his serious, long-term girlfriend and the mother of his daughter. We see that he is into drugs. We see that he has done jail time. And we see that he has violent tendencies. But we also see that he is tender, charismatic, and trying to do better. He is painted as a young adult trying to figure out his troubled life.
In full disclosure, the movie is obviously biased. I’m not saying that the point of the movie is wrong or right, but they obviously had an agenda. Which is fine. It’s a dramatization, not a documentary, it’s allowed to interpret things however it wants.
After watching the movie (and crying like a little girl) I was curious to see the real parts of this story. So I did some research. I watched all the direct evidence videos, and read all the court documents, and read lots of other articles on the subject matter, and my personal opinion is that Oscar Grant was executed.
And here’s why…
I think that it’s kind of ridiculous to think that said officer intended to taser Grant, but actually shot him. Aren’t guns generally a lot heavier than tasers? And, do they not have a safety feature that you would have to intentionally turn off to use? Also, I would assume that if you are an officer, you are trained to have your gun and your taser on separate sides of your utility belt? And to know which side is which? If we have officers out there who can make a mix-up of this magnitude, we are all in trouble.
Also, Grant was unarmed, and already restrained. And from eyewitness accounts seemed to be fairly cooperative, unless taunted into being otherwise.
And to pull the racism card, Grant was an African-American male, and they are generally treated unfairly (I would assume this is even more true in the Oakland area). It is a recurring theme if you look into police brutality; you will see African-American males being beating, singled out, and treated unfairly. Racism still exists, and I think it would be foolish to not let that play a part in this tragedy. Even if the officer wasn’t racist, I still think it was a racist act (does that make sense). Let me put it this way, if this was a group of Caucasian kids on a subway in Maryland do you think anyone would have ended up fatally shot?
I think the officer in question should have been punished to the full extent of the law. If the situation was reversed and the officer was African-American, and had fatally shot a Caucasian kid, do you think he would have received the same punishment? My guess is no. He would have most likely been severely punished, and not be made to serve just 11 months for involuntary manslaughter. If this was an isolated incident, my instincts might be to be a bit more lenient. But police brutality occurs on a weekly (if not daily) basis (do the research, the proof is there). And often goes unpunished. They are brutal because they can be. Because there are no repercussions. Where is the justice in that?
Now, back to how I learned how incredibly unobservant I am. This incident was presented and discussed in several media outlets. And I hadn’t heard a single thing about it. It was on the national news, on Youtube, and in magazines. Where was I? It just happened in 2009. I was old enough that I should have some recollection of it. But I can’t pull a single memory of it. And I am ashamed of that. What kind of Midwest bubble do I live in?
And people, though I want to believe they are inherently good, seem to prove just the opposite. I’m not even referring to the people involved in the incident (even though I obviously think there is some not goodness going on in them). I’m looking strictly at the people writing and commenting on this tragedy. People are hateful on both sides of the fence. Whether they believe that Oscar Grant brought this on himself, or whether they believe it was cold-blooded murder, they tend to get hateful about it. No matter which side you choose to take, the best way to win people over to your side is not to get ugly about it. In fact, when someone gets ugly in an attempt to prove their point, it often times backfires on them and it just solidifies the other persons view point. As I’ve said before, you can’t fight hate with hate.
But, don’t take my word on any of this. Watch the movie. Do some research and then make your own judgment.
(Totally trivial side note: I think this is the most shocking Oscar shut out of the year. All the leads deserve some Oscar love. I think it might have even been robbed a Best Picture nom.)