OAKLAND (KCBS) – Movie theaters in Oakland added extra screenings Friday to accommodate huge crowds that wanted to see “Fruitvale Station,” a new film about the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer.
As she waited in line, moviegoer Deidre Isles reflected on the toll Grant’s killing took on her as a BART rider, even though she never knew Grant.
“As I was passing Fruitvale Station, I would get chills looking at the platform,” she said, adding she hopes the film will heighten awareness of racial profiling and police abuse.
“We’re racially profiled, and there needs to be some type of change to prevent that from happening in the future,” she said.
Grant, 22, was unarmed when he was fatally shot by Officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale BART station in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009. Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2010 and was released from prison in 2011.
Lines at the Grand Lake Theater were long all day Friday, and several extra evening showings were scheduled after the first three evening screenings were sold out.
BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey watched the film with several of his command staff, and said it fulfilled the vision filmmaker Ryan Coogler outlined when he met with Rainey. “He wanted to humanize Oscar Grant. The movie that he made, his vision is not to inflame. It’s to heal,” he said.
“I think we all owe it to the Grant family and ourselves to learn from what happened,” Rainey said.
The slaying sparked community outrage for months, and led to significant changes in how BART manages and trains its police force. Rainey stressed that BART’s police department is vastly different than it was in 2009.
“The Oscar Grant-Johannes Mehserle incident is the catalyst,” he said.
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