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.