Fruitvale Station; the horrors of police brutality

I had the chance to watch Fruitvale Station today – what a fantastic film. It depicts the true-life story of Oscar, a 22-year old African American male who was brutally shot by the San Francisco police on New Year’s Eve of 2009. Michael B. Jordan plays Oscar, and was ridiculously genuine and honest in his portrayal of this young man whose life was unjustly taken. Ryan Coogler was amazing as a first-time director, creating a multi-dimensional story of who Oscar was as a person: a loving son, a good brother, a dedicated father and boyfriend. It was the cast’s ability to show the audience all the facets of who Oscar was that made knowledge of his impending death so much harder to swallow.

During the scene where Oscar was shot, my mom, sister and I were bawling; we were able to feel a minuscule fraction of the grief and heart-wrenching confusion his family experienced in reality. There’s this beautiful scene towards the end of the film where Octavia Spencer, who plays Oscar’s mother, asks to see him. She is staring at him through the hospital glass and asks the nurse, “I need to hug him, he doesn’t like to be alone.” It was juxtaposed with an earlier scene in the film where his mother gives him some tough love and tells him to get his act togetherwhile refusing to give him a hug. We then see her walking out of the prison hurriedly, while Oscar runs after her screaming, “Can I get a hug, ma?”. So incredibly moving.

I took a lot out of Fruitvale Station, but what I felt the most was the way that young black males in North America are demonized and targeted by the police.

One of the reasons why I especially liked Fruitvale Station was how they humanized the plight of African American males through Oscar. Black males are often viewed as menacing, dangerous, and threatening – but Oscar was funny, loving, and hard-working. This film especially resonated with me for personal reasons, namely because I have a 15-year old little brother. To think that someone could look at him and view him as a threat to their safety makes me horribly uncomfortable. He is literally such a sweet kid, and the fact that he has and will continue to be harassed by the police just because of the color of his skin is so obscene to me. So much for living in a “progressive” “post-racial” society. What bullshit.

Fruitvale also intensified the dislike I already hold towards the police. The way I view it, throughout most of North America, the police are there to protect certain segments of society: the white and the rich. If you’re poor and a person of color, its a wrap. That’s not to say that all police officers are racist pricks who engage in the use of excessive force, it’s just that a fair amount do. I certainly feel that the bad outweighs the good most times.

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