Fruitvale Station, the standout flick from Sundance Film Festival this year, reenacts the final day of Oscar Grant’s life, detailing an inciting incident that furthered ongoing civil rights battles still prevalent in the U.S. today.
Grant was a 22-year-old, unarmed black man fatally shot by a white police officer in an Oakland metro station on New Year’s Day 2009. While supporters feel he was not vindicated in court, his tale has been given new light in this upcoming movie, which was bought by the Weinstein Company for a reported $2.5 million, and will hit theaters this summer.
“It was surreal, exciting, encouraging, and fearful,” Cephus ‘Uncle Bobby’ Johnson, Grant’s uncle, tells theGrio about the film. “This movie meant to me that the humanity of Oscar, the loving spirit of Oscar, the family love for Oscar can now be seen by the world, directly addressing the demonization that was being portrayed by the defense and local mass media of Oscar. It gives the audience a deeper perception to who Oscar was, and his actions on that platform that night before his murder at the Fruitvale Bart Station.”
Onto the world stage
Premiering at Sundance in January, Fruitvale Station was awarded both the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, two of the most coveted honors at the annual event. This month, it will screen at Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard, and it is set for nationwide theatrical release in July.
Already, the film has garnered positive attention from critics, who are calling it “powerful,” “incredibly moving and confident,” and “no-frills.”
On Tuesday, the studio released the first poster for the film, an illustrated image of Grant’s back as he holds hands with his daughter, and overlooks the BART station.
“Ultimately, I think it comes down to the story and the way in which it’s told,” Trevor Groth, Director of Programming for Sundance Institute observes. “Audiences at our Festival connected to and were compelled by the real-life, horrifying story of Oscar Grant and his murder at the Fruitvale subway stop. What’s extraordinary about the film is that the writer/director Ryan Coogler makes the film about the person rather than the tragedy, which makes the ending all the more heartbreaking.”
According to Groth, the awards Fruitvale Station received are typically granted to films that are original and “dynamic,” something not always true of even big budget pictures.
He adds, “The jury members are so well versed in independent film, and they’re seeing so many high-quality films at our Festival that a film must be truly innovative and emotionally powerful to rise up and earn the Grand Jury prize. This is absolutely apparent with Fruitvale Station, which achieved the rare feat of also winning our Audience Award.”
Drama with a touch of vérité
With newfound energy brought to Grant’s cause, Johnson feels Fruitvale Station offers a chance for audiences to learn about his nephew’s “humanity,” which he says was lost amidst court battles and media frenzy. Johnson assisted Coogler in the filmmaker’s research for the movie.
“These young black men are humans,” Johnson says. “They too have a right to life, and not all police shootings are a justifiable homicide. These young men have families that love them, and they all are not all monsters as portrayed by police defense tactics…A conversation is needed around racism.”
In many ways, Grant’s story echoes that of others like him, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and forced to pay the consequences without due process of the law.
Grant’s life ended in the early morning hours of January 1, 2009, when police officers arrived to a crowded BART Station near San Francisco to halt a fight that had broke out. Officers restrained Grant along with others on the train without searching for weapons.
In videos taken by bystanders, Grant can be seen sitting against a wall, and later holding his hands in the air as he speaks to the officer. After handcuffing Grant’s friend, an officer struck Grant, claiming he was resisting arrest, and forced him to the ground.
As Grant lies with his chest on the ground, “struggling” according to some reports, an officer pulls out a gun and shoots him in the back. He died seven hours later.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, none of the seven officers on the scene radioed to BART supervisors that a police shooting had taken place.
“I was devastated at what I was hearing about Oscar being shot,” Johnson recalls. “I did not know initially that it was the police that shot him. Once that was learned and seeing it on YouTube, it crushed me. I knew that there was much to discuss about how black people were treated by police, but to see it happen to a loved one in the way that he was murdered was like watching him being lynched.”
After a criminal trial, a court found the police officer that shot Grant guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and not guilty of both second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter charges. He was sentenced to two years in prison after the judge removed a gun enhancement that would have added 3-10 years, and his length was additionally reduced with double credit for time previously served.
Further rioting ensued.
Grant’s family brought a civil rights lawsuit to court, which was closed when BART settled with the mother of Grant’s son for $1.5 million.
Johnson believes much needs to be done in order to make progress in the fight against police brutality and racial profiling, as Grant’s case did “nothing” to that degree.
“The civil rights legislation failed in the criminal preceding,” he remarks. “What justice means to me is exactly what it supposed to mean, that is, fair and reasonable treatment applied equally. Oscar did not receive justice because the officer was not held accountable for what he did.”
A narrative written in the stars?
Should history repeats itself, the fate of Fruitvale Station looks promising. Last year’s Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance, Beasts of the Southern Wild, went on to be nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture.
Other Sundance favorites have similarly achieved top honors while also breaking new talent, and accruing sizable box office earnings. The 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine received a handful of Oscar nominations, as did 2009’s Precious. The 2004 comedy Napoleon Dynamite grossed over $44 million in the domestic box office.
“Many of the films we show that achieve the most success outside of the Festival are those that are both compelling in terms of the specific story they tell as well as how they address a larger issue,” Groth notes. “One thing I love about Fruitvale Station is how it offers a barometer reading on the state of humanity in American society today. We can all learn something from this film.”
Plus, the movie’s got star power behind it. Oscar-winners Forest Whitaker and Octavia Spencer produced it, and Spencer also plays a role in the movie. Other cast members include Michael B. Jordan and Chad Michael Murray.
“Michael B. Jordan unleashes a phenomenal performance that I believe will launch him into the highest stratosphere of acting talent,” says Groth.
Grant’s final Bow
For Grant’s family, the release of Fruitvale Station will be a moment for their lost child to have a voice.
Johnson hopes Grant’s legacy will now be characterized by “his humanity, his love for his mother, fiancée, daughter, and community, [and] his branding on police terrorism by the saying, ‘We are all Oscar Grant.’”
One of the most talked about films of the Sundance Film Festival this past January was the first feature by writer-director Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station (formerly known as Fruitvale). A native of Oakland, California, Coogler found the inspiration for this harrowing drama painfully close to home in the tragic tale of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old who was fatally shot in the back by a BART police officer on New Year’s Day 2009. The circumstances surrounding Grant’s death went public in a major way as the incident had been captured by a number of camera phones. When this frightening footage hit the web, it spurred outrage and riots.
With Fruitvale Station Coogler sought not to parse the aftermath of the Grant’s death, but instead the last hours of his life. Michael B. Jordan fronts the film as Grant, and is featured in the film’s latest poster, courtesy of The Huffington Post. At Sundance, he told HuffPo that the gravity of playing a real person was a major pressure, explaining,
“One day, his daughter is going to watch this movie. That was something I constantly thought about. His mom is going to watch this movie. I didn’t want to let anybody down. At the premiere in Sundance on Saturday, his aunt stood up and said, ‘You know, Mike, there were certain times in the movie where I couldn’t tell Oscar from you,’ and that’s the biggest compliment I ever could have gotten.”
This wasn’t the only compliment Jordan or the film received at Sundance. Aside from rave reviews from critics (including our own Katey Rich), it was soon picked up for distribution by The Weinstein Company, and ultimately took home two coveted honors, the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. Very soon you’ll have a chance to see what all the buzz is about as Fruitvale Station is set to premiere in limited release on July 12th. And if the Sundance crowds are right, this daring biopic could be a dark horse come award season.
Gina Lang, Ginsberg/Libby
Tel: 323.645.6800 or email@example.com
FILM INDEPENDENT ANNOUNCES 2013 LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL LINE-UP
ALONG WITH CLOSING NIGHT FILM AND GALAS
- Fox Searchlight Pictures’ The Way, Way Back Written and Directed by
Oscar® Winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash to Close the Festival -
- Galas Include the North American Premiere of Nicholas Winding Refn’s
Only God Forgives and Ryan Coogler’s Award Winning Fruitvale Station -
- 22 Films Chosen for Narrative & Documentary Competition -
LOS ANGELES (May 1, 2013) – Today the Los Angeles Film Festival, presented by Film Independent, in conjunction with Presenting Media Sponsor the Los Angeles Times and Host Partner L.A. LIVE, announced its official US and international selections. Fox Searchlight Pictures’ The Way, Way Back, written and directed by Oscar® winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, will serve as the Closing Night film for the 2013 Festival. The film stars Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Annasophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph and Liam James. Closing Night is sponsored by DIRECTV’s premium pay-per-view movie service, DIRECTV Cinema. Also announced are the Festival’s Gala screenings, which include Ryan Coogler’s award winning Fruitvale Station from The Weinstein Company and the North American premiere of Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives from RADiUS-TWC. Now in its nineteenth year, the Festival showcases the best in new American and international cinema and is produced by Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that also produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and Film Independent at LACMA film series.
The 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, which returns to downtown Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE for a fourth year and runs from Thursday, June 13 to Sunday, June 23, will screen a diverse slate of nearly 200 feature films, shorts and music videos, representing more than 40 countries, along with signature programs such as the Filmmaker Retreat, Music in Film Nights at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE, Poolside Chats, Master Classes and more. Previously announced, filmmaker David O. Russell will serve as Guest Director and will receive the Spirit of Independence Award. Also confirmed were two Master Classes with Artists in Residence Maya Rudolph and Gustavo Santaolalla, “An Evening With Costa-Gavras,” including the US premiere of his new film Capital, and an “In Conversation” with playwright/filmmaker David Mamet and actor/stage magician/author Ricky Jay. Opening the Festival will be the North American premiere of Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited!.
“Our programmers culled through thousands of submissions and emerged with unique cinematic jewels from both seasoned masters and first time directors that will take you around the world,” said Stephanie Allain, Festival Director. “Whether witnessing the border up close in Rodrigo Reyes’ Purgatorio, hanging courtside with Venus Williams in Ava DuVernay’s Venus Vs., howling with Almodovar’s I’m So Excited!, or feeling the love in Rash and Faxon’s The Way, Way Back, you are in for an eye-opening experience. Bring your shades.”
“We’ve put together a program that will appeal to every kind of movie lover, from exciting new American indies to the best international art house fare and eye-opening documentaries to family films, thrillers and horror flicks,” said David Ansen, Artistic Director of the Festival. “We have 20 World Premieres and have discovered some amazing new filmmaking voices to introduce alongside such masters as Pedro Almodovar, Marco Bellocchio, Costa-Gavras and Johnnie To. I’m excited to turn Los Angeles on to these incredible movies.”
The Festival concludes with Fox Searchlight’s The Way, Way Back, written and directed by Oscar® winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, and starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet and Liam James. The film is the funny and poignant coming-of-age story of 14-year-old Duncan’s (Liam James) summer vacation with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette), her overbearing boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and his daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin). Having a rough time fitting in, the introverted Duncan finds an unexpected friend in gregarious Owen (Sam Rockwell), manager of the Water Wizz water park. Through his funny, clandestine friendship with Owen, Duncan slowly opens up to and begins to finally find his place in the world – all during a summer he will never forget. Fox Searchlight Pictures will release the film on July 5.
The Gala screenings at the 2013 Festival include the North American premiere of RADiUS-TWC’s Only God Forgives, which reunites filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn with his Drive star Ryan Gosling for an audacious piece of cinematic bravura about an American expat in Bangkok’s brutal underworld forced to deal with his mother’s obsession for vengeance after his brother’s murder. The film also stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Vithaya Pansringarm. Also, The Weinstein Company’s Fruitvale Station from first-time feature filmmaker Ryan Coogler, who brings cinematic grace and maturity to the tragic true story of Oscar Grant, a young African-American man, on the fateful day he was killed by Oakland’s BART transit police. It stars Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray and Octavia Spencer.
Another Festival highlight from this year’s line-up are the free Community Screenings including a 20th Anniversary screening of Dazed and Confused from director Richard Linklater and a Dance-A-Long screening of John Waters’ Hairspray in honor of its 25th Anniversary.
More Special Screenings and Programs will be announced in the coming weeks.
This year, the Festival received 5,428 submissions from filmmakers around the world, compared to 5,283 last year. The final selections represent 35 World, North American and US premieres, which includes premiere status for films previously announced. 22 of the premieres are in the Narrative and Documentary Competition sections.
Passes are currently on sale to Film Independent members and the general public. In addition to screenings and events, Festival passes provide access to a series of networking receptions and entry to the Filmmaker Lounge, where Festival pass holders can interact with Festival filmmakers and professionals in the film community. General admission tickets to individual films go on sale beginning May 21. Contact the Ticket Office for passes, tickets and event information by calling 866.FILM.FEST (866.345.6337) or visit LAFilmFest.com.
For the eighth year, the Los Angeles Times will serve as the Festival’s Presenting Media Sponsor and will produce the Official Film Guide, the comprehensive source for all movie info, screenings, locations and related special events. The Film Guide will top the paper on Sunday, June 9 in Los Angeles and Orange County, and will be made available throughout downtown Los Angeles during the ten-day event.
For media and publicist credentials please visit the Press & Media section of lafilmfest.com and fill out the application. Deadline is May 17.
Narrative Competition (12): The Narrative Competition is comprised of films made by talented emerging filmmakers that compete for the Filmmaker Award. The winner is determined by a panel of jurors, and films in this section are also eligible for the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature or Best International Feature. The Narrative Competition and Grand Jury Prize are sponsored by DIRECTV Cinema.
• All Together Now, Alexander Mirecki – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Forev, Molly Green, James Leffler – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Forty Years From Yesterday, Robert Machoian, Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Four Dogs, Joe Burke – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Goodbye World, Denis Henry Hennelly – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• The House That Jack Built, Henry Barrial – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• I.D., Kamal K M – India – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
• Mother, I Love You, Janis Nords – Latvia – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
• My Sister’s Quinceañera, Aaron Douglas Johnston – USA – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
• Pollywogs, Karl Jacob, Todd Arthur Cottam – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Winter in the Blood, Andrew Smith, Alex Smith – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Workers, Jose Luis Valle – Mexico/Germany – US PREMIERE
Documentary Competition (10): The Documentary Competition is comprised of films made by talented emerging filmmakers that compete for the Documentary Award. The winner is determined by a panel of jurors, and films in this section are also eligible for the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature or Best International Feature. The Documentary Competition and Grand Jury Prize are sponsored by DIRECTV Cinema.
• All of Me, Alexandra Lescaze – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, Grace Lee – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Code Black, Ryan McGarry – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• The Island of Saint Matthews, Kevin Jerome Everson – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Llyn Foulkes: One Man Band, Christopher Quilty, Tamar Halpern – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• My Stolen Revolution, Nahid Persson Sarvestani – Sweden – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
• The New Black, Yoruba Richen – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Rain, Olivia Rochette, Gerard-Jan Claes – Belgium – US PREMIERE
• Tapia, Eddie Alcazar – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Purgatorio, Rodrigo Reyes – Mexico/USA – US PREMIERE
International Showcase (15): The International Showcase highlights innovative independent narrative and documentary features from outside of the United States. Films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best International Feature, Best Narrative Feature, or Best Documentary Feature.
• The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn – Denmark/Norway/UK (Drafthouse Films)
• Black Out, Eva Webber – UK – NORTH AMERCAN PREMIERE
• Boxing Day, Bernard Rose – UK
• Dormant Beauty, Marco Bellocchio – Italy
• Drug War, Johnnie To – China
• Ernest & Celestine, Stéphanie Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner – France (Gkids)
• The Expedition to the End of the World, Daniel Dancik – Denmark
• The Fifth Season, Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth – Belgium/Netherlands/France
• House with a Turret, Eva Neymann – Ukraine
• The Moo Man, Andy Heathcote, Heike Bachelier – UK
• Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, Hong Sang-soo – Korea – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
• The Patience Stone, Atiq Rahimi – Afghanistan/France/Germany/UK (Sony Pictures Classics)
• Wadjda, Haifaa Al Mansour – Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates/Germany (Sony Pictures Classics)
• When I Saw You, Annemarie Jacir – Palestine/Jordan/Greece/United Arab Emirates/USA
• The Women and the Passenger, Valentina Mac-Pherson, Patricia Correra – Chile – US PREMIERE
Summer Showcase (17): The Summer Showcase section offers an advanced look at this summer’s most talked about independent film releases and will include highlights from the festival circuit and premieres. Films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best International Feature, Best Narrative Feature, or Best Documentary Feature.
• Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, David Lowery – USA (IFC Films)
• Brothers Hypnotic, Reuben Atlas – Netherlands/USA
• Casting By, Tom Donahue – USA (HBO Films)
• Concussion, Stacie Passon – USA (RADiUS-TWC)
• The Crash Reel, Lucy Walker – USA (HBO Films)
• Crystal Fairy, Sebastián Silva – Chile (IFC Films)
• Europa Report, Sebastián Cordero – USA (Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing) – US PREMIERE
• First Cousin Once Removed, Alan Berliner – USA (HBO Films)
• Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, Sophie Huber – Switzerland
• In a World…, Lake Bell – USA (Roadside Attractions)
• Our Nixon, Penny Lane – USA
• Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton, Jeff Broadway – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Short Term 12, Destin Daniel Cretton – USA
• The Spectacular Now, James Ponsoldt – USA
• Venus Vs., Ava DuVernay – USA (ESPN) – WORLD PREMIERE
Community Screenings (5): These films will be presented free to the public. New films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature or Best Documentary Feature.
• Brasslands, Adam Pogoff, Jay Sterrenberg, Bryan Chang – USA – FIGat7th Screening
• Dazed and Confused (1993), Richard Linklater – USA – 20th Anniversary Screening – FIGat7th Screening
• Hairspray (1988), John Waters – USA – Grand Park Dance-A-Long – 25th Anniversary Screening
• Inequality for All, Jacob Kornbluth – USA – Grand Performances Screening
• Life of a King, Jake Goldberger – USA– Project Involve Screening – WORLD PREMIERE
The Beyond (3): The Beyond offers films that dare to be different. Films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best International Feature or Best Narrative Feature.
• Delivery, Brian Netto – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Lesson of the Evil, Takashi Miike – Japan – US PREMIERE
• You’re Next, Adam Wingard – USA (Lionsgate)
• Amarcord (1973), Federico Fellini – Italy – 40th Anniversary Screening
• Between Two Worlds (2009), Vimukthi Jayasundara – Sri Lanka/France – LAFCA’s The Film That Got Away
• Two Men in Manhattan (1958), Jean Pierre-Melville – France (Cohen Media Group) – 55th Anniversary Screening
Short Films (44): Shorts are shown before features and as part of four short film programs. With their diverse and complex content, these films shine brilliantly. Most short films, domestic and international, will compete for prizes in Narrative, Documentary and Animation/Experimental categories. The winner is determined by a panel of jurors. An Audience Award for Best Short Film is also presented.
• Shorts Program 1-4
Future Filmmakers Showcase: High School Shorts (29): These two programs of shorts are made by high school students from around the world, featuring work by the next generation of filmmakers.
• Programs 1-2
Music Videos (33): The Music Video Showcase consists of two programs. Eclectic Mix 1 and 2 are a visual mix tape of this year’s best independent music videos with a few innovative major label artists thrown in for good measure. Music videos will compete for an Audience Award.
• Eclectic Mix
PLEASE REFERENCE THE ADDENDUM FOR ALL FILM TITLES, SYNOPSES, CAST, AND CREDITS FOR ALL FEATURE FILMS:
2013 LINE-UP ADDENDUM
ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL
Now in its nineteenth year, The Los Angeles Film Festival is presented by Film Independent, in conjunction with Presenting Media Sponsor the Los Angeles Times, Premier and Closing Night Sponsor DIRECTV Cinema, Principal and Family Day sponsor Hasbro Studios and Platinum sponsors Stella Artois, Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14, EFILM, HBO, Volkswagen of America, Canon U.S.A., Inc., and Dolby Laboratories, Inc. Special support is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Official Screening Venue is Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14. Stella Artois is the official beer. The Los Angeles Athletic Club is the Official Host Hotel. WireImage is the Official Photography Agency and PR Newswire is the Official Breaking News Service of Film Independent.
More information can be found at LAFilmFest.com.
ABOUT LOS ANGELES TIMES
The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 1.5 million and 2.6 million on Sunday, more than 23 million unique latimes.com visitors monthly and a combined print and online local weekly audience of 4.1 million. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Times has been covering Southern California for more than 131 years.
The Los Angeles Times Media Group (LATMG) businesses and affiliates also include The Envelope, Times Community News, and Hoy Los Angeles which, combined with the flagship Los Angeles Times, reach approximately 5.2 million or 39% of all adults in the Southern California marketplace. LATMG also owns California Community News, LLC, operates Tribune Direct LA, and is part of Tribune Company, one of the country’s leading media companies with businesses in publishing, the Internet and broadcasting. Additional information is available at http://latimes.com/aboutus
ABOUT L.A. LIVE
L.A. LIVE is a 4 million square foot / $2.5 billion downtown Los Angeles sports & entertainment district adjacent to STAPLES Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center featuring Club Nokia, a 2,300 capacity live music venue, Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, a 7,100-seat live theatre, a 54-story, 1001-room convention “headquarters” destination (featuring The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles and JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE hotels and 224 luxury condominiums – The Ritz Carlton Residences at L.A. LIVE – all in a single tower), The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE, the 14-screen Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14 theatre, “broadcast” facilities for ESPN along with entertainment, residential, restaurant and office space. Visit L.A. LIVE today at www.lalive.com
IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Historic Statewide Civil Rights Conference to Take Place in Oxnard, CA 4/27/2013: Justice for Our Communities! Families Organizing to Resist Police Brutality and Abuse
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (805) 328-4763
PRESS CONFERENCE: TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 2013 @ 4 PM CRUZ REYNOSO JUSTICE CENTER 338 South “A” Street Oxnard, CA 93030
HISTORIC STATEWIDE CIVIL RIGHTS CONFERENCE TO TAKE PLACE IN OXNARD, CALIFORNIA APRIL 27, 2013
Justice for Our Communities! Families Organizing to Resist Police Brutality and Abuse
Dozens of community organizations and several families that have lost their loved ones to extra-judicial killings by police are set to meet at “Justice for Our Communities! Families Organizing to Resist Police Brutality and Abuse”, a statewide conference that will be held Saturday April 27, 2013 at Oxnard Community College, 4000 South Rose Avenue, from 9am – 5pm. This groundbreaking civil rights conference will consist of several keynote addresses, workshops, and educational/legal panel discussions, as well as a discussion and special session for police brutality victims and their families.
Speakers will include the survivors and relatives of deceased victims of extra-judicial killings such as Robert Ramirez (Oxnard), Oscar Grant (Oakland), Kelly Thomas (Fullerton), Manuel Diaz (Anaheim), Michael Nida (Downey), Jose de la Trinidad (Inglewood), Ernest Dueñez (Manteca), and Andy Avila (Pomona), among many others.
This conference is a component in the ongoing grassroots community resistance that has been spurred on across the state in response to a soaring rise in police militarization, brutality, and officer-committed abuse in working class neighborhoods and communities of color. This conference will create an opportunity for the planning, coordination, and organization of statewide events and actions to address and bring an end to these injustices.
The Honorable Cruz Reynoso, the first Chicano Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, and professor emeritus of law at UC Davis, will deliver a keynote address on the civil responsibilities and rights which citizens and residents enjoy in our state and country, civic engagement to better our communities, and his ongoing involvement in fighting for justice for victims of police violence in the Yolo County/Sacramento area.
Click here to read a letter from the Hon. Cruz Reynoso accepting the invitation to Justice for Our Communities! Families Organizing to Resist Police Brutality and Abuse: http://tinyurl.com/ReynosoOxCityConf
Other keynote speakers include former LAPD Ramparts Division officer Alex M. Salazar, who will address the increase in police killings, the impacts of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) amongst officers, and the racism engrained in the culture of police agencies. Los Angeles-based independent journalist and author Thandisizwe Chimurenga will also speak about the permanent bias in media outlets in their coverage of extra-judicial killings, and the role independent community journalism can play in reshaping the narrative and allowing the pleas of victims’ families to be heard. Minister Keith Mohammad of the Nation of Islam, a key leader in the fight for justice by the family of Oscar Grant (killed in 2009 by BART police in Oakland), will also be speaking at the conference.
The conference is being hosted by Oxnard College MEChA. It is being organized by the Oxnard-based Todo Poder al Pueblo Collective (www.todopoderalpueblo.org) in alliance with sponsoring and endorsing organizations including Chicanos Unidos, Decolonize Oakland, the KEYS Youth Leadership Academy, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement AFL-CIO (Sacramento), LULAC Downtown Oxnard Council 3128, National Brown Berets, Nida’s Ridaz, Occupy the Hood (Los Angeles), the Oscar Grant Foundation, People’s Community Medics, Stop LAPD Spying, Unión del Barrio, and many more.
Conference attendees are encouraged to pre-register at: tinyurl.com/oxcityconf
PARTICIPATING AND ENDORSING ORGANIZATIONS:
30+300 (Santa Barbara)
50/50 Crew (San Jose)
Chicano Mexicano Prison Project
Chicanos Unidos (Anaheim/Orange County)
Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo (Oxnard)
CopWatch (Santa Ana, San Fernando Valley)
Fresno Autonomous Brown Berets
Homies Unidos (Los Angeles)
Kelly’s Army (Fullerton)
KEYS Youth Leadership (Oxnard)
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement AFL-CIO Sacramento
National Brown Berets Santa Paula
Nida’s Ridaz (Downey/LA)
Occupy the Hood Los Angeles
Oscar Grant Committee (Oakland)
The Oscar Grant Foundation
Oxnard College Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA)
Peoples Community Medics (Oakland)
P.O.D.E.R. (People Organizing for the Defense and Equal Rights ) Santa Barbara County
Raza Press and Media Association
Stop LAPD Spying
Raza Press and Media Association
Stop LAPD Spying
Unión del Barrio
Youth Justice Coalition (Los Angeles)
To Join event follow link: Oscar Grant Fruitvale Station In 2013 Cannes Film Festival
Help us build our audience for the Movie Fruitvale Station by sharing with all your friends as it hits the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France May 15th-26th 2013:
We need at least 1000+ people stating that they are going to see the movie. This will increase our ability to bring to Oakland Grand Lake Theater, Paramount, or even the Fox Theater for a premiere showing. Please invite your entire friend list to help build and promote by going to Facebook event page here:
Oscar Grant movie Fruitvale name has been changed to Fruitvale Station. It has been selected to play in the Cannes Film Festival located in Cannes, France from 15 to 26 May 2013. This is an international film festival. Oscar story is now going international for the world to view.
Please say you are going if you want to see this movie. We need to promote our request here to show our demand for a premiere here in Oakland California. Share this with all your friends for Oscar.
Justice For Oscar Grant– “We are all still Oscar Grant” Long live the Spirit of the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement”
The 66th annual Cannes Film Festival is scheduled to take placed in Cannes, France from 15 to 26 May 2013. Steven Spielberg has been announced as the head of the jury for the main competition. New Zealand film director Jane Campion has been announced as the head of the jury for the Cinéfondation and Short Film sections. French actress Audrey Tautou has been announced as the host of the opening and closing ceremonies.
We can never forget the mind set that we are dealing with when it comes to Police Terrorism. Most police officers must learn this right at home from their father’s as we witness by johannes Mehserle father actions.
“This is a man whose family member killed a member of my family,” Johnson said. “Beyond the fact that taking photos is illegal, it was extremely inappropriate for him to come up and speak to me in that manner.” Todd Mehserle two photo’s of Grant’s uncle, Uncle Bobby, was deleted from his cellphone by federal security agents and reported to Judge Edward Chen, by the federal security agents that he in fact did have two pictures of Grant’s uncle.
By: Will Reisman | 11/29/11 5:00 AM
SF Examiner Staff Writer
Todd Mehserle was barred from the U.S. District Court in San Francisco after he took a photograph of Cephus Johnson — Grant’s uncle — in the court hallway Wednesday, according to lawyers in the case. Taking photos is forbidden in the federal courthouse.
Johnson, whose nickname is Uncle Bobby, said Todd Mehserle approached him in the hallway during a break in the civil trial in which the younger Mehserle is being accused by Oakland resident Kenneth Carrethers of using excessive force in a November 2008 incident.
The elder Mehserle said, “Smile, Bobby!” and “Have a good Thanksgiving,” in a very sarcastic, abrasive tone, Johnson said.
When Johnson informed Judge Edward Chen of the interaction, the judge ordered that Todd Mehserle be removed for the remainder of the trial.
The younger Mehserle is one of five BART police officers being sued by Carrethers, who is seeking damages.
Carrethers alleges that the officers used excessive force while detaining him during an altercation in 2008 — about six weeks before Mehserle shot and killed an unarmed Grant at the Fruitvale BART station. Mehserle served half of a two-year jail sentence after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Grant’s death.
In the Carrethers case, Mehserle is accused of leg-sweeping him and tackling him to the ground. Carrethers said the action was unlawful, while Mehserle has said that he was protecting fellow Officer Frederick Guanzon from an impending assault by Carrethers.
Johnson, along with his wife, Beatrice X, has been attending the civil trial, which began last week. He said his encounter with Todd Mehserle in the courtroom hallway was unexpected and unnerving.
“This was a man whose family member killed a member of my family,” Johnson said. “Beyond the fact that taking photos is illegal, it was extremely inappropriate for him to come up and speak to me in that manner.”
Todd Mehserle has been a vocal supporter of his son. Before his son’s sentencing last year, he attached a 60-foot-tall sign to a sailboat mast outside of AT&T Park reading “Free Johannes Mehserle.”
Dale Allen, the attorney representing the BART officers, said Todd Mehserle made a simple mistake by taking the photograph in the hallway. He downplayed the significance of Todd Mehserle’s being barred, saying that it was just a necessary procedural move.
Todd Mehserle could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.
Justice For Oscar Grant: Ending Police Brutality!
One On One with Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson
Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): We’re now going on two years since the murder of your nephew, Oscar Grant. With the amount of time that has gone by there have been some recent updates. Can you explain a few of those updates regarding his case?
Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson (CJ): Well of course it was painful during the sentencing to hear the judge say that he made a mistake. We were in court, because we heard a police officer say that he made a mistake by drawing his weapon instead of his taser. So to hear the judge say, “Well we’re all human beings. We’re trying to do our best, and I made a mistake and therefore I have to throw out the gun enhancement…”, which was the meat of our sentencing…. With that major punch in the face, we were really hurt.
As we came out of that courtroom, we believed that he had just given a mandate to all police officers across the United States that they can just kill at will and say that it’s justifiable because we have something in our hands. Before we could get home, Derrick Jones, another African American male killed by OPD (Oakland Police Department) with the same statement that he was reaching for something in his waistband. So with our experience and my experience in the courtroom, we are coming to realize just how racist this criminal justice system is, and to get home from the sentencing of our case and hear immediately after that sentencing another African American male has been killed by OPD and the same excuse being used. This has really inflicted a lot of emotional harm and has even brought up some anger. In going forward, of course, it is our hope and prayer that the Department of Justice gets involved. Now we have to sit down and begin this process in how to engage the Department of Justice, how do we assure that they are going to pick this case up, and then going from there in seeking the justice that Oscar deserves in what happened to him on that platform.
I’m receiving calls almost every day from a representative from BART; Johannes Mehserle worked for the police department of BART. Just the other day this gentleman, who is a public relation, called for the Chief of Police of BART, because he wants to have a meeting with the families. It was really hard to even engage them, but I concluded that I would have this meeting. However I decided to have the meeting after we heard Marysol Domenici, who was on the platform the night Oscar was murdered. We knew just within the transcripts, court hearings, court records and within BART personnel records that this woman lied and was terminated by BART and now she gets rehired. So here’s another slap in the face. The sentencing wasn’t nothing, we come home and Derrick is murdered, now they rehire Marysol Domenici who was part of the one’s who instigated the whole thing on the platform.
I let them know I’ll meet with the Chief of Police, and now nobody calls me back. It just goes to show that there’s much work that needs to be done in order for me to get through this with a sane mind and hopefully continue to do the right thing. I need to stay on my knees and continue to pray, because this is unreal; what we have experienced and it’s very painful.
EM: Yes sir. When you talk about the pain, and in your experience along with Oscar’s mom, how much more complicated is all of this making your grieving process? Not only did you lose your nephew and your sister lost her son and the way it happened, but the continuous slaps of injustice. How much more difficult is it making it on you to grieve?
CJ: It’s extremely difficult, but one of the charges that I have against my life is that I’m not going to stop fighting. Although it hurts, although it may seem like everything is going in the complete opposite direction, and that we as African Americans in the United States definitely don’t have any rights when it comes to a true hearing and justice. What charges me to really keep forward even though I’m receiving these punches in the way I’m receiving them is my sister’s in pain. It’s hard for her to hear this stuff over and over. Just emotionally from losing Oscar, she’s already down. Now to hear what the judge did in not giving this man any prison time and to turn around and hear that BART decided to rehire Marysol Domenici who was a part of the responsibility of why Oscar was murdered on that platform… For me it may hurt, but this is something that I’m tasked with for the rest of my life.
To be honest, I love my people but I love my sister and my nephew. Although it’s for them (our people), it’s also for us. People need to hear that we are dealing with a system that has institutionalized racism in such a way that it seems like we’ll just accept it. However when you lose a loved one and you got to deal with this system…it’s painful.
EM: With the participation of the community and other public figures, does it bring a little balance to that injustice? We’re dealing with a system that really wasn’t meant to give us justice, yet we still have to fight and participate as much as we can. With those in the community and those all over the world supporting you all and getting the word out, does that also fuel your charge to keep going?
CJ: It does. I’ve come to realize that those who are not directly involved with losing a loved and those who don’t have the passion in their heart for our people, they get tired and they go away. Their lives just take off and they continue doing what they were doing before this incident or situation occurred. However, yes, seeing the people and having their support and even having the community speak to the issue, even if they’re outraged speaking to the issue, it really keeps me motivated in a sense that I’m not doing this alone. It may come to a point where I’m walking by myself. I pray that it doesn’t happen, because then that means that we’ve just given up. Yes, the community, their involvement, their love, those that stand for justice have been extremely helpful.
EM: With the last bit of information that was given with regard to Oscar’s case, what plans are in motion in going forward, what’s next?
CJ: We definitely want the Department of Justice to bring Civil Right violations to Johannes Mehserle, Tony Peroni, and Marysol Domenici for what happened on that platform. We may get it, we may not. What our lead is next is just engaging the right people, hopefully our people in wanting to get involved with this process of changing this racist justice system from the way that it is. I know that’s not going to be an easy task, because one of the strongest unions in the state of California and probably across the United States is the Prison Guards and Policeman’s Union, and they have power. If no changes are made at least people can be aware, much more now than ever before that this system, that we know today as it stands, does not give us justice. If you’re going to face it, you might as well understand that some of us stand up and bring about a change.
EM: Absolutely. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Brother Dennis Muhammad and the Peace Keepers organization, but he works with police departments in teaching them sensitivity, especially when it comes to race relations. He actually tours the country with his program. Is that something you see yourself getting involved with as you talk about bringing about more awareness?
CJ: That is exactly one of the things I plan to do, and I’m putting together The Oscar Grant Foundation. One of the things that I’m looking at is how to bridge the gap between the policemen and the community. How do we engage the police officers to have more sensitivity and understanding of our people? How do we do that? Of course, I have my own ideas in how that works or how it could work and how it can begin. I’ve talked with a friend of mine, and I’ve stated that part of the employment process should require that you spend 16 hours out of a year or out of a quarter at a foundation, let’s say The Oscar Grant Foundation, dealing with kids of color. You’re required; whether you’re Black, White, or Hispanic to do a camping trip with them; to be like a big brother to them. Get to know these kids so that when they see you or the police they don’t say, “Duck, that’s the police” and be afraid and worried about you shooting.
EM: Yes sir! Beautiful! Is there anything else you would like to add?
CJ: The only thing I think is left to add is that we also have to change the way the police officers, when they’re charged for murder, are given representation. Not who represents them but who represents the family. We’ve learned as a family that anytime a police officer is killed in a county, that county’s District Attorney’s office puts a D.A. prosecutor on the case. That prosecutor is assigned to the family. We have no choice in the prosecutor. We get what they give. Like a public defender. This prosecutor, who we know has a relationship with this police officer (Johannes Mehserle), most likely knows his mother, his dog, his children and have a love for him, now has been given the task to put his friend in prison. We know that it can’t honestly be done. Therefore, there has to be a change; the Department of Justice without a relationship across the United States where the East Coast region is responsible for the West Coast region and the West Coast region is responsible for the East Coast region. Bring in D.A.’s and prosecuting attorneys from the Department of Justice to charge these officers for the murder they commit.
Therefore, maybe by not having a relationship with these officers can actually do the family true justice by really seeking to put them in jail. I think in that respect, that’s another area I think we need to address and change, because the way the justice system is set up now, no police officers go to prison for murder; none for a non-duty shooting. So with that being said, it’s not because they didn’t do it and they’re always right, it’s because of the way the system is set up.
EM: Yes sir, it’s actually to protect them not us.
CJ: Right, exactly.
EM: Thank you so much for your time and for the update. I’m glad that you mentioned The Oscar Grant Foundation. I’ll continue to get updates from Sister Beatrice for that information and any other updates that may take place.
CJ: Okay, sounds good, and thank you too.
Event Date: April 6, 2013
Time: 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Location: Merritt College 12500 Campus Dr, Oakland, California 94619
“Say it Loud, I’m Black & Proud, When I say BLACK I mean RED & BROWN”
The “Say it Loud, I’m Black & Proud, When I say Black I mean Red and Brown 2nd Town-hall” is sponsored by The Oscar Grant Foundation, Merritt College Puente Program, and Merritt College African-American Studies Program. The panel will discuss the issue of Police Brutality in our community, Community Unity as a defense to Police Brutality, Community Organizing, and how Gun Violence affect on our community.
The Town-hall will start with Native spiritual dance, Aztec Dancers, and African Libation.
NATIVE COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVE:
Lakota Harden (Minnecoujou/Yankton Lakota and HoChunk) is an orator, activist, community organizer, workshop facilitator, radio host and poet. She has dedicated her life, as a daughter of seven generations of Lakota leaders, to liberation and justice. She has continued her activism over the years, working with the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), Women of All Red Nations (WARN) and the Black Hills Alliance. Harden began collaborating with the Oakland-based Todos Alliance-Building Institute and the Oakland Men’s Project. She conducts trainings nationwide for adults who work with youth, across lines of gender, race and age to stop violence. As part of these projects, Harden conducts workshops on unlearning racism, sexism and other social oppressions.
LATINO COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVE:
Minister Abel Muhammad has a unique insight into the issues of the Latino community, having served as director of Centro Sin Fronteras Immigrant Legal Assistance program, working for the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration’s voter education campaigns, and traveling to Cuba in 1995 with Rev. Lucius Walker and Pastors for Peace. He has spoken at churches, mosques, universities, and numerous panels about the need for the unity of oppressed people and the demand for social justice. Coordinating Latino outreach, Minister Abel helped organize Latino participation in the Millions More Movement in 2005.
HIP-HOP ARTIST REPRESENTATIVE:
Jasiri X As President of LYRICS Inc. (Leading Young Rappers in Career Success), Jasiri successfully navigates communication with today’s youth via speaking (and teaching to adults) the language of Hip Hop and showing the pros and cons of this growing phenomenon. He is also a founding member of One HOOD, a group comprised of strong black men determined to heal the wounds of the community with a proactive approach. A Hip-Hop artist and political activist, he brings to Hip-Hop a message of raw truth. Politics, classism, racism, and police brutality, is expressed poetically and powerfully through his lyrics.
OAKLAND COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVE:
Minister Keith Muhammad is a student Minister of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. He serves the Oakland community as representative of Minister Farrakhan at Muhammad Mosque #26B where he also established the Muhammad University of Islam, instructing children K-12 in history and religious studies. The murder of Oscar Grant inspired him to organize weekly town hall meetings to encourage the community to unite, fight, and stand for justice.
HIP-HOP RAPtivist REPRESENTATIVE:
Ras Ceylon Coming straight out of the West Coast (Bay Area & Southern California) Ras Ceylon is an emcee, educator and organizer bringing revolutionary music; a hip-hop meets reggae dynamic and explosively conscious lyrics. In addition to music, Ras Ceylon is an Oakland community activist working to empower youth on a number of issues around social justice and education. Also having worked and lived internationally in places such as Jamaica and Sri Lanka it is clear that Ras Ceylon lives the message he speaks about in his music.
Lubna Morrar- Palestinian Merritt College Student
Tim Killings President of Laney College BSU
Castlemont High School Students
Special Hip-Hop performance by Jasiri X and Ras Ceylon, Spoken Word performance by Jazz Monique Hudson
The Oscar Grant Foundation teams with Raptivist in a Campaign to Raise Funds and Awareness of police brutality in our communities. The campaign will help raise awareness and funding in support of a Family First Crisis Response Team that will assist the family through the initial aftermath of a traumatic event caused by police violence and will assist the OGF and families to participate in the September 2013 Congressional Black Caucus Convention.
The Oscar Grant Foundation recognize the struggles families face when victims of police violence. “With the support of people in the community, we are able to provide funding, resources, and, most importantly, support to people and families facing the challenges of emotional injuries sustained at the hands of law enforcement officers.”
The Oscar Grant Foundation has been committed to making an impact in the communities where we live and work.
Your donations are tax deductible.
The donation suggested for this event is $8.00 in advanced and $10.00 at the door. Space is limited, please make suggested $8.00 donations in advance. Click here to get ticket To see entire list of Raptivist follow=> See List of Raptivists
A Historical Video Documentation of the Oscar Grant Murder Movement