Stranger Fruit's Strange Defense of Michael Brown

Stranger Fruit by Jason Pollock

In 2014, Ferguson, Missouri went from being a nondescript suburb of St. Louis to ground zero in the debate of racism. Two and a half year's later, director Jason Pollock shows that those wounds are still struggling to heal.

Critical Blast has already weighed in a few times on these events, having already opined on the events as they happened, and have spoken with Ferguson residents (like rapper Justin B. Williams). STRANGER FRUIT, however, has us chiming in again on what one would have thought was a settled issue.

It's name being a play off of the Billie Holiday revealing classic about southern racism, STRANGER FRUIT replays the events that lit the fuse for a week of riots and destruction -- the moment when Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Much of the narrative about the shooting centered around video showing Brown in what appeared to be a strong-arm robbery of a local convenience store, taking a handful of cigarillos and pushing a clerk.

While Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson declared at the time that the video did not have a bearing on Wilson's actions, being unknown at the time of the shooting, Pollock's documentary uses even earlier footage from the location, proclaiming that Brown was not stealing the cigarillos, but in fact had purchased them on an earlier visit -- with an exchange of marijuana.

"My client was stealing, your honor. He was dealing drugs."

It seems a strange defense, particularly of an action that has already been declared to have had no bearing on the case other than after the fact character witness or character assassination, depending on which side of the debate you happen to stand.

The film has prompted renewed protests outside the Ferguson Market, and began trending on Twitter with the #FergusonMarket hashtag. Jay Kanzler, an attorney for the market, maintains that no such exchange of drugs took place, and that the video in question had already been seen by all involved, including the Brown family. Kanzler says the full video will be release Monday, and should quash any claims from Pollock's "edited version of events."

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