While the name Emmett Till made its way up Twitter's list of trending topics Saturday night and a jury of six women determined that George Zimmerman was justified in killing 17-year-old teenager Trayvon Martin, another young black man's tragic fate unfolded once more on a national stage.
"Fruitvale Station," the story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Oakland man who was fatally shot by a transit agency police officer in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2009, opened in theaters on Friday, prompting heart-wrenching parallels to the Trayvon Martin case.
"In that courtroom, and in the coverage of the events within it, a young black man's death has prompted speculation, assumptions, and judgment about his life. And in theaters across the country, 'Fruitvale Station' considers those same questions about Oscar Grant," The Atlantic's Jason Bailey wrote Friday in his review of the film.
Bailey's comparison of "Fruitvale" and the near 17-month-long Martin case is one that others say touch some of the rawest nerves and raise thorny, intractable issues of law and order, violence and race.
But the film's director, 26-year-old Ryan Coogler, admits that playing the race card wasn't exactly his intent.
"I hope that the film will inspire thought process in the people who watch it that can lead to discourse," Coogler told Gawker. "For me it isn't just about racism. For me it's more about the fact that so many people like Oscar are dying unnecessary violent deaths, regardless of who was holding the trigger. These young people are losing their lives and they're leaving people behind," he said.
According to initial reports in the Oscar Grant case, the 22-year-old who worked as a butcher at a supermarket near the train station where he was killed, was a loving father who had been making progress in overcoming his troubled past.
The officer who shot Grant was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served only 11 months.
Although protests erupted peacefully in nearby San Francisco after the Zimmerman verdict was read, Oakland residents didn't react as calmly. People marching through the city broke windows, spray painted cars and buildings and attempted to start fires, according to The Oakland Tribune.
George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter Saturday, bringing a close to the trial that Fox News accused of being used as a ploy to market the "Fruitvale" film.
Have you seen "Fruitvale Station"? Tell us what you think of the parallels between Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin in the comments section below.
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