On Friday, January 11th, SURJ Sacramento held a free screening of Fruitvale Station at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento to remember the 10 year anniversary of the horrific murder of Oscar Grant. SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice), as stated by The Action Network, is “a national network organizing for racial justice through community organizing, mobilizing, and education.”
Jenae Stainer, a member of SURJ Sacramento and Allies of BLM Sacramento, says “Our goal is to raise funds for them, as they are constantly in need of funds. They are very busy. They are having barbecues 3 days a week at the district attorney’s office to protest the fact that she hasn’t pressed charges against any of the police officers who have killed black men in Sacramento and most famously, Stephon Clark. That was sort of the beginning of the barbecue protests. It’s a really creative, non-violent action that brings attention to the fact that the DA is elected by the people and she’s supposed to serve the people.” She continues, “In addition to that, they have a lot of upcoming actions like their 4th annual Reclaim MLK Day March. They have a lot of clerical costs just running a website. They have a helpline that the community calls. They have a lot of members who are putting their own income into the movement in addition to having their jobs and their children and their schooling and everything else that they’re doing, so we want to support them in any way we can.”
And in a designated donation bowl next to the refreshments, people were putting in dollar bills to show their support towards the matter. Although it was a room of mostly white faces, they were all turned forward in respect to watch the movie once it had begun.
Fruitvale Station follows the story of Oscar Grant III’s last day alive before being murdered by a white Bay Area Transit police officer at a BART station platform. Video camera footage caught from onlookers shows us that he was unarmed and forcefully put face-down before being shot in the back. He would die just a few hours later, surgery being rendered useless due to his severe injury.
When the film ended, the audience proved themselves to have taken in the importance of the movie in a loosely organized discussion.
“He’s [Ryan Coogler] shaping a better future for African American people. I feel like it’s a really important point of history for people understand because you understand police brutality better with this story,” says Sophi Marsaw-Nevarez, an audience member.
Oscar Grant’s incident wasn’t the first of its kind, and it certainly won’t be the last with police brutality still being a prominent issue in the United States.
SURJ Sacramento’s partnership with UUSS will continue to have a monthly series of free movie screenings with similar content matter available to anyone in support of BLM.