On Tuesday, video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot and killed by police officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago last year was released by authorities, sparking a wave of protests around the city. (Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder for McDonald’s death; the teenager was shot 16 times.)
Speaking to Stephen Colbert during his appearance on Tuesday night’s The Late Show, director Spike Lee said he was “glad” the tape was released after a year.
“This is democracy, and sometimes I don’t think we can pick and choose what America can see,” Lee said.
Lee’s new film Chi-Raq tackles gun violence in the city of Chicago, and the director explained that he hoped to have a “real discussion about guns in this country.”
“I’m not talking about taking anyone’s Second Amendment rights, but there is stuff we can do: tougher background checks, we can title guns like cars,” Lee said. “Members of the NRA agree with this stuff. Chicago has a very tight gun control law, but you get in a car and in 20 minutes, you’re in Indiana.” (According statistics, 19 percent of all illegal guns in Chicago come from Indiana; 60 percent of guns used in violent crimes come from out of state.)
During the interview, which took place as the McDonald video was going public, Lee said he hoped the protests around Chicago would not become violent. “I think there’s a way to have peaceful demonstrations without tearing stuff up,” he said. “I’m hopeful nothing crazy happens.” It didn’t: According to the New York Times, demonstrators remained peaceful throughout the night.
Chi-Raq is out Dec. 4.