MHP   |  July 13, 2013

How ‘Fruitvale Station’ filmmakers chronicled Oscar Grant’s story

Melissa Harris-Perry continues her conversation with “Fruitvale Station” writer and director Ryan Coogler about how they put together the timeline of the film and what the story tells us about what it’s like be a young, black man today.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> that's another scene from the new movie, "fruitvale station." i want to bring my panel back into the conversation on the link between oscar grant and trayvon martin, and how some young black men might feel like targets verizon citizens. no way, given the timing of the release of this film, that we'll be able to do anything but compare them. what do we learn from oscar grant's story that connects us with trayvon martin?

>> ryan , i saw your movie, i loved it, it is brilliant, it is complexed, it's nuanced. only in wayne lapierre 's minds are there good guys and bad people . and he's struggling with the decision to whether or not deal drugs, he makes the decision not to do that, and the next moment, he's showing his thuggish side, and how much he loves his mother and his girlfriend and his daughter. and it's so complex, but, of course, he is profiled, as we see, in the little clip that you see, he's on the train, the cop doesn't see him do anything wrong, but you're a black male, i'm rounding up the black men, you come with me. you know, and of course we see this idea that when the cops come and george zimmerman tried to present himself as a law enforcement figure, you have to be so pliant, right? my mother, my father taught me that from being a little kid. you have to be so pliant, yes, sir, no, sir, i'm not doing anything, or you might get killed by accident. i thought it was my taser!

>> right, and i wonder if that's part of what happens, if we take away the right to be outraged that your friend is being harassed by the police, the right to have a human reaction to that kind of situation.

>> you know, black parents are forced to raise their kids with lessons white parents are not.

>> yep.

>> all of us have friends who have to tell their children, if you see a police officer , it's not, you're in trouble, go to the police officer . if you're in trouble, stop talking, hold still, put your arms up, do not -- so, you're actually walking around every day in fear of people who are supposed to keep you safe, and we know that it's different. now, one thing i think it's important to say here is, we do not have to live this way. one of the things that's so important about understanding that 98% of our brains are operating subconsciously is, we can change it. some of this research on police shooter violence actually shifts when they get the proper training. so, this -- and there's new research going on right now, to demonstrate how to do that. there are police chiefs in this country that are coming together, trying to figure that out. so i think it is important to note, there are changes we can make, and some people are trying, and they need to be supportive.

>> ryan , i want to ask you about one last scene in the film. one that has been a little bit controversial and polarizing. and that's the scene that you generate, right? a lot of what you are using are from text messages and from phone calls, from records that we know about what oscar did on that last day. but there's a moment when he spends some time with a pit bull . and you sort of make that moment up, right? we don't know whether that existed or not. i got it right away, the way pit bulls are also rolfed, the assumption that pit bulls are always dangerous, that there was a sort of similarity with that to black manhood. but i know that some people feel like it was gratuitous, that you're just trying to make him a guy who likes dogs.

>> it was definitely a scene that was multi-layered for us. it was nothing to do with oscar being an animal person or someone who likes animals in person. you hit the nail on the head with one aspect of it, that the pit bull being a dog -- young african- american males gravitate towards that dogs. and many times with pit bulls , when you hear about them in the media and hear about them in the news, it's always for being doing something bad, for being a fighting dog . but from people who own these animals, they're some of the best dogs in the world. there's a disparity between what these dogs do in real life and what they're shown doing in the media. same thing with young african- american males . we're shown in the media, for only a very slim percentage for what most of us are really are. there's that connection there. and the dog dies in the street and nobody really cares, life goes on, even for oscar . oscar is forced to leave the dog right there in the street. and so many young african- american males die in the street senselessly. and it seems like people don't really stop, people don't really slow down and watch unless people have an intimate relationship with those individuals. and i think it's a human rights issue that everyone should pay attention to.

>> ryan , it's an incredible film. i want everybody to go see it. i want you to go see it with your loved ones and i want you to go see it and take a deep breath. thank you to ryan coogler in los angeles , director of "fruitvale station." and michael and toure will stay with us. we'll see you in the next hour.

>>> but up next, the video that you have to see.