Operation Small Axe

In memory of Oscar Grant (1986-2009)

Dir. Adimu Madyun, 2009, 71 min.

In true citizen journalistic style, Operation Small Axe takes the camera to the streets and gives a detailed account of the shooting of 23 year-old Oscar Grant by a member of the Oakland Police Department on New Years Day 2009. Grant’s shooting at the Fruitvale BART (subway) station was witnessed by dozens of train passengers and was captured on camera phone by a passerby. In the wake of Grant’s death and the release of the video that documented it and word of mouth, multitudes protested in neighborhoods and streets of the Bay Area--and in some cases, across the nation--demanding justice for Oscar Grant. In decrying the many instances of injustice experienced by black American communities on the part of law enforcement, the filmmakers draw parallels with the brutality of occupation in war-ravaged places like Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq. The film takes its title from the words of Bob Marley: “If you are a big tree, we are the small axe, sharpened to cut you down.” With footage of interviews and talks with community members, youth, and prominent California public figures, such as political activist and academic Angela Davis and former congresswoman and U.S. presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney.

After the movie:

Q&A with Prisoners of Conscience Committee Minister of Information JR