While everybody was renewing their Starz subscription for the fifth season of “Power,” I was browsing through the new movies in my down time and stumbled across “Stranger Fruit.”
The documentary originally premiered at the 2017 SXSW film festival and received some backlash for never-before-seen footage of Mike Brown the day before his murder. So, filmmaker and director Jason Pollock did some more digging and released an extended version of the film in April. Starz picked it up in June.
And, now, we are here.
The most controversial part of the documentary was a key piece of evidence that the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department decided to bury. A surveillance video of Mike Brown the night before his murder showed him in the same convenience store where he was accused of a strong-arm robbery. The question begs: Why would Mike Brown, who seemed to have a working relationship with store staff, go in the very next day and “rob” the joint?
The video was never admitted into evidence or released to the public, further proving the modern-day cover up in the death of Michael Brown Jr.
The Ferguson Police Department, District Attorney Bob McCullough, and the media (Fox News at the top of the list) had a clear agenda in protecting and polishing the reputation of Officer Darren Wilson (who shot Mike Brown on Aug. 9, 2014), while creating a damaging narrative about the life of Mike Brown.
Does this sound familiar?
Although we are in the beginning stages of finding justice for Antwon Rose II, Pittsburgh news outlets were quick to inform us about how that young man had an empty clip in his pocket.
Laws and processes go right out the window when African American victims are involved. Mike Brown’s body had lain in the middle of a Ferguson street for four and a half hours, which is completely against protocol. Here in Pittsburgh, an Allegheny County judge granted East Pittsburgh Officer Michael Rosfeld an unsecured bond, also completely against normal protocol.
If you ask me, Darren Wilson and Michael Rosfeld are one in the same; timid White men with a racist agenda hiding behind a badge. Both officers were relieved of duties with other law enforcement agencies, or, at the very least, had questionable records as an officer. Both officers have a history of excessive force. And still, they both took an oath and then took someone’s life.
There’s no way you can watch “Stranger Fruit” and not be angry. It’s not even possible to watch “Stranger Fruit” and not think about how we have the same exact problems in our own backyard. East Pittsburgh is now the new Ferguson, Missouri. This epidemic occurs so frequently that soon there will be another city crying the injustice woes of an unarmed Black man’s death at the hands of police.
We, the people, have to begin the dialogue and action to create, implement, and enforce the counter-narrative. Black men are not disposable. We will not tolerate their slaughter.
To the Rose family, I am so sorry for your loss! I have been protesting, I have been praying, and I am hoping that we can bring about change.
To the protestors, stay strong and healthy. Your voices are being heard!
To my own Black son, Zaire, I wish mommy could protect you at all times. I can’t shield you from the target on your back. But, prayerfully, I can place some love, comfort, and resources at your feet to make you move in the right direction.
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