OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Hundreds of people gathered at the Grand Lake Theater near Oakland’s Lake Merritt Thursday evening for a private screening of the film “Fruitvale Station” which depicts the last 24 hours in the life of Oscar Grant III.
Grant, 22, was fatally shot in the back on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station on Jan. 1, 2009, by former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle.
Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a 2010 trial. He was sentenced to two years in prison with credit for time served, and was released in early 2011.
During the trial, Mehserle testified that he meant to use his Taser but accidentally fired his service weapon instead.
The killing prompted widespread outrage in the Bay Area, including several destructive protests in Oakland.
The film, directed by Bay Area native Ryan Coogler and featuring actors Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan, opens nationwide in on July 12 after earning top honors at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Grant’s uncle, Cephus Johnson, who attended Thursday night’s screening said, “I wish the entire community could share this experience but we know there are not enough seats.”
He said that the support that Grant’s family received following his death “means everything to us. If had it not been for community, none of us would know who Oscar is.”
He said he hopes the film will help to “undemonize black and brown men.”
“It’s bigger than Oscar,” Johnson said. “This film will help bring to reality that these men are not demons.”
Grant’s cousin, Akeem Aziz, 18, said that the film means Grant’s life was “worth enough to make a movie out of it.”
He said about two dozen members of Grant’s family were on hand to attend the screening, and the family has been healing in the years since Grant’s very public death but that it’s a “slow process.”
Also at the screening were the parents of Alan Blueford, an 18-year-old student at Skyline High School who was shot and killed by Oakland police Officer Miguel Masso on May 6, 2012, in a chase near 92nd Avenue and Birch Street in East Oakland.
Blueford’s mother, Jeralynn Blueford, said she sees the death of Grant and the death of her son as two “very parallel” incidents.
“The Grant family reached out to us the day after our son died,” she said. “Our son was yelling ‘why did you shoot me?’” after he was shot, and she said Grant’s family told her that he yelled the same thing after he was shot.
Several lead actors from the film, the director and other filmmakers—including actor, producer and director Forest Whitaker—were in attendance for the special screening.
An after-party for the actors, filmmakers and invited guests was scheduled at Oakland barbecue joint Everett and Jones.
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