Stranger Fruit – A Must See Documentary That Unravels What Happened To Mike Brown

On August 9th, 2014 an unarmed 18-year-old named Michael Brown was killed by Ferguson, MO Officer Darren Wilson. Michael’s death became viral news and sparked protests for him worldwide.   Mike’s death also sparked a great deal of division and controversy.   Ferguson looked like a police state with the presence of the National Guard.

Sometime ago, I remember seeing on Twitter about the discovery of another video of Mike Brown in the convenience store.  I also remember various criticisms of the video and of the person who released it, even one that said the man who released the video was trying to promote his “book”.

As a blogger who has followed cases, I will tell anyone that it’s very difficult to convey in writing what is on video.  It is more difficult when what the video shows is being disputed.  Videos need to be presented in order for eyes to see.  As a journalism professor once told our class, “Show.  Don’t tell.”

The documentary Stranger Fruit, shows.  That doesn’t only apply to an additional video not released to the public during investigations into Mike’s death.  It also applies throughout the various interviews. It shows what is being discussed.

I didn’t pay much attention to the recently discovered video.  The reason for that is because in 1955, I was living in Chicago when Emmet Till was murdered.  I remember the front covers of Jet Magazine and the Chicago Daily Defender after Emmet’s funeral was held.   In 1969, I was living in Chicago when Fred Hampton was executed.  I was alive in 1964 when Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney went to Mississippi to register voters during Freedom Summer, and they disappeared.  Although 400 U.S. Navy sailors, the FBI, local and state authorities searched for their bodies, it took two months after a tip before their bodies were found.

The investigation found that local White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Neshoba County Sheriff’s Office, and the Philadelphia, Mississippi Police Department were all involved in the murders.  The state government refused to prosecute.  The federal government charged 18 individuals.  Seven were convicted and their sentences ranged from 3 to 10 years.    Forty-one years after the murders, another man named Edgar Ray Killen was charged by the state of Mississippi for his part in the crimes. He was convicted of three counts of manslaughter in 2005 and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Being young and saying the pledge of allegiance to the flag every school day, I trusted the words; “… with liberty and justice for all.”  However, it seemed that wasn’t true, and it was very difficult for me to understand why. The elderly men at the newspaper stand were talking one Saturday morning about the 3 men murdered in Mississippi and one said, “Had those two White boys not been murdered, there never would have been an investigation.”

After hearing the men say “Uh-huh” in agreement, another said, “That White jury would have never convicted those White men for murdering that Negro kid.”

These were not all Black men in that newspaper stand.  Some were Jewish men – men with numbers tattooed on their arm.  One who owned the local meat market, was of Italian descent.

They knew.  They knew that White juries laughed in the face of Lady Justice, and that some White prosecutors grease the knife before putting it in the backs of victims’ families.

It was common to hear, “Nobody’s goin’ to do nothin’.”

I tend to have that attitude after the Department of Justice has conducted and closed investigations without indictments.  That is how I felt when the DOJ closed the investigation into Mike’s death and why I only took a passing interest when Jason Pollock released the previously, unreleased video.

Taking a break last night, I went to Starz On Demand, and there was “Stranger Fruit”.

Michael Rechtshaffen of Hollywood Reporter reviewed the documentary, saying that it “drops a major bombshell” in the form of additional surveillance footage that was suppressed by Ferguson police.  Rechtshaffen describes the documentary as;

“Determined to set the record straight, director Jason Pollock (a protege of Michael Moore) opens his own investigation — and the damning, emotionally charged results clearly struck a chord with the audience at its SXSW world premiere, which was attended by Brown’s mother, Lezley McSpadden.”

Pollock includes why Darren Wilson painted Mike as a football player coming to attack him.  He points out that a bullet was embedded in the pavement next to Mike’s body.  That is documented, but ignored — not explained, in the investigative reports.

Pollock shows an interview of Darren Wilson when Wilson stated that he aimed for Mike’s head and “saw” the bullet as it entered.  Pollock believes that Wilson was shooting down to shoot Mike in the head — not directly in front of him.  Polluck puts in time addressing the embedded bullet in the pavement.

Pollock goes over the distances from Wilson’s vehicle, to where Mike laid, to where blood was found on the pavement behind Mike’s body.  He uses the investigation report and video interviews to show the distances and that the public was not told the truth.

The documentary doesn’t only tell the story through the eyes of Mike Brown’s family, but also through witnesses and in some cases, those witnesses sharing how they said one thing, but their words were twisted by St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch to something else.  It tells that St. Louis County Prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, dismissed all testimony of witnesses with the exception of one, and shows McCulloch admitting that the one witness whose testimony was not discarded, was not even in the area when Mike Brown was killed.

All the time, Jason Pollock shows what they are talking about, including that the St. Louis Office for the DOJ merely copied and pasted Bob McCulloch’s report and represented it as their own investigation and findings.

It wasn’t just a matter of being on the same page — it was the same page.

Stranger Fruit was released in March 2017, and is now available on Starz.  The full movie is also available on Youtube for $3.99.



Posted on 06/27/2018, in Cases, Michael Brown - Ferguson, movies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Dear Xena,

    The Michael Brown case is one that I followed with due diligence as I truly believed that justice was trampled on with his story. The incident at the store bothered me greatly because Michael was obviously having a heated discussion with the clerk at the convenience store. Later the police said the clerk didn’t understand English. That was a lie because how could there have been a heated back and forth argument if they both didn’t speak English. Also Michael had $10 in his pocket. He could have paid for whatever he had taken from the store.

    Any way, I’ll be viewing this Stranger Fruit” video. I’ll let you know what I think.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 3 people

    • Gronda,
      One of the things that Jason Pollock does in the movie, is address how the release of the one video was to demonize Mike to make it appear justifiable that he didn’t deserve to live. Wilson didn’t know of the reported “robbery” when he stopped Mike and his friend for walking in the middle of the street. The idea that Mike was stopped for being a robbery suspect was to cover up how the police in Ferguson harassed the citizens of that town.

      Although not mentioned in the film, I remember it being reported that a customer called 911 and not the store clerk or another store employee. The film does get into how Asian store owners “barter” with those in communities where they do business, and had the police released the store video from 10 hours earlier, Mike would not have appeared to be a “robber” deserving execution in the street.

      After you watch the film, please do let me know what you think.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this article. I haven’t heard of this documentary, but I’ll see if I can put this on my queue when I start reviewing things again. The title is also a great homage to Nina Simone and the message of the original song still resonates albeit re-contextualized in this case.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ospreyshire,
      I had heard that a movie was being produced, but didn’t know when nor that it was a documentary. I’m glad that Starz has it available. When you do have time to watch, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s great how it happened. I’m actually surprised Starz has the license for it. Then again, I was surprised when a company like Fox would dare license Birth of a Nation (2016), so I could be surprised. That looks like a documentary I would watch. I thought it was great seeing quality documentaries dealing with racism in America such as Hate Crimes In the Heartland, I Am Not Your Negro, The Central Park Five, and Project 2-3-1 to name a few.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ospreyshire,
          Thanks for the titles of other documentaries. I’ll keep my eyes open. The documentary about the death of Jordan Davis and the trial of his killer Michael Dunn, which is titled “3 1/2 Minutes” was picked up by HBO. It’s available now On Demand. I’m beginning to think that producers realize that people don’t go to the movies to see documentaries, so the cable networks are a better way for the films to be seen.

          Liked by 2 people

          • You’re welcome. I’ve actually reviewed a bunch of them on Iridium Eye, too. Haha!

            Okay, in all seriousness, that sounds like a great documentary, too. That’s a good point since I can’t remember the last documentary that got a major theatrical release. Cable and streaming services are where it’s at when it comes to docs.


          • Ospreyshire,
            I have Comcast and found “Streampix”. After scrolling through Hollywood films, they have documentaries. I also learned that I can use the remote voice command and ask to be shown “documentaries”. I just discovered a website, Top Documentary Films. Going through the list, it doesn’t look like any of them are feature length — they are 48, 25 minutes, etc., but some do look interesting. I’ve bookmarked the site.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks for the link and for the info. I’ve certainly checked out some shorter documentaries.


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