Part I: The Tension In That Moment
I saw Fruitvale Station and left thinking about the night a friend and I were pulled over by police officers. We were making a U-Turn to park just a block away from a cabaret we were attending in northeast Washington, D.C.
"Step out of the vehicle." An officer said blue lights spinning on his patrol spun behind us.
My friend, with a flashlight shining in his face, asked, "What did we do officer?"
"Get out of the vehicle." He barked this time.
Out of the car, another officer pushed me toward the sidewalk. A few cars slowed to see what was going on. Two or three more patrol cars arrived on the scene as we were told to face away from the car.
Fear, frustration and anger boiled because we weren't told why we were pulled over and we didn't know what the officer's intentions were. Were they looking for something, someone or trying to set us up?
My friend asked again, "what did we do officer?"
He and I looked over our shoulders and saw the officers shining their flashlights through the car. My friend yelled at them. I don't remember what he said but I remember trying to keep him calm and quiet.
Watching Fruitvale and Michael B. Jordan's ripping, raw portrayal of Oscar during the last hours of his life, I felt a brief connection. Jordan's portrayal was real. I felt the tension in that moment. The diverse audience in the packed downtown D.C. theater did too as I felt and heard their disbelief during that subway scene.
Did Jordan pull from his own personal experience? I know that other African American men who have or will watch that scene, will say they could.
As I watched, I covered my eyes for a second, sighed heavily, prayed and sank into my seat as the scene progressed. And I jumped when I heard the shot.
My mind raced back to that night in northeast Washington. That could have been one of us.
My frustration and anger from twenty years ago stirred again. If but for a moment, I felt what Oscar felt that night. I hope others did, too.
He was at a crossroad, a father who'd made mistakes but was trying to do the right thing. I felt his mother's pain for suggesting that he take the subway. I thought of my mother. How many times in high school or home from college had she said to me as I walked out the door at night, "be careful."
That night Oscar was just trying to get home to his daughter. What's more frustrating is the officer, sworn to serve and protect the peace not only disturbed it, he changed the lives of so many including his own when he pulled that trigger.
Sadly, that isn't where the injustice begins.....
Stay tuned for Part II
The link below is video footage of the night Oscar Grant III was shot at Frutivale Station