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‘Fruitvale Station’ screening to spotlight police brutality

Panel discussion to include CSPD chief of police

Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 23:02

To spark discussion on police brutality, the MSC Woodson Black Awareness Committee and the College of Liberal Arts will show the 2013 film “Fruitvale Station” on Thursday.

The presentation will reflect on the story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old man who was shot and killed by a police officer in 2009 in Oakland, Calif., and conduct a follow-up discussion on police brutality, crime and community. The story draws attention to justice because the officer who shot Grant, Johannes Mehserle, was sentenced to two years in jail.

“The experience will be a gut-wrenching one due to the very emotional nature of the film, but students will definitely walk away with a brief introduction to the occurrence of police brutality, the representation of minorities and the law and the awareness that every citizen does not have the same equal encounter with law enforcement,” said Terrell Feathers, WBAC educational programs director. “Although some attendants will not completely understand the depths of this issue and topic, this event will serve as the glasses to help them better understand the world around them as far as privilege, race, class and gender goes.”

Following the film presentation, the floor will open for questions led by a panel of Jeff Capps, College Station Police Department chief of police; Jarvis Parsons, Brazos County district attorney; and John M. Eason, A&M sociology assistant professor.

Feathers said the film is not meant to parallel the conduct of College Station police officers.

“The story behind ‘Fruitvale Station’ in my personal opinion is not related to College Station,” Feathers said. “College Station’s law enforcement agency does a great job respecting the many different individuals who make up this very peaceful environment. With that, I think that only speaks volumes to [Capps’] — who will be featured as one of our panelists — leadership and character as his influence trickles down to the officers that serve with him.”

Capps said avoiding police brutality in general has a high level of importance at the CSPD.

“Any time you have a case involving excessive force or police brutality, it leaves a negative impact and deteriorates the public trust in the law enforcement profession, whether or not the incident occurred in your jurisdiction or another,” Capps said. “We must ensure our staff are well trained and we must hold our officers to the highest standards.”

Feathers said it is important to show the film to encourage awareness of the challenges certain minority groups may face.

“The importance of showing ‘Fruitvale Station’ from an organizational standpoint is to provide the Texas A&M campus an opportunity to be enlightened about the different realities, whether positive or negative, its black counterparts face when encountering law enforcement agencies,” Feathers said.

The event will be from 7-10 p.m. Thursday in the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building.

“Our mission in WBAC is to educate to the student body, faculty and the whole community about the culture, concerns, heritage and history of people of African origin,” said WBAC director Candace Morris. “I think showing this film will definitely highlight the concern that there are black men out there every day scared for their lives because of fear that they will be prejudged by the color of their skin, which is an everyday fear that other people often overlook.”


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