Spike Lee reflects on continued police brutality since the 1989 release of Do the Right Thing
The director called into the The Tonight Show to discuss his new short film 3 Brothers, the protests in the wake of George Floyd's death, and hopes for the future.
During a segment on Monday night's episode of The Tonight Show, director Spike Lee video-called in to discuss his powerful new short film, 3 Brothers. The project likens George Floyd and Eric Garner's deaths to that of Radio Raheem, a character in his 1989 movie Do the Right Thing. All three died at the hands of police officers.
"Radio Raheem is a fictional character from my 1989 film Do The Right Thing, but his murder is based on the real murder — so that's where I got the idea," Lee explained to host Jimmy Fallon, adding that the fictional violence that kills Raheem was inspired by the killing of Michael Stewart, a New York City graffiti artist.
Fallon went on to ask if Lee if he would've expected things to have changed in the 37 years since Stewart's death in 1983. "When I saw Eric Garner, I'm like, 'That's Radio Raheem based on Michael Stewart,'" he responded. "And then to see our brother [George] Floyd, and I know he saw what happened to Eric Garner, so he's seeing that in his mind as his last eight and a half are being suffocated out of him."
Lee did, however, share his optimism that the response and activism we're currently seeing could cause real change. "Jimmy, my brother, people are there," he said, adding that despite quarantine he donned a mask and got involved in the protests himself. "The young white generation, my sisters and brothers, they're out there, it's not just black and brown people. I'm very, very enthusiastic that people around the world were galvanized by the horrific murder of George Floyd." He also shared that he believes the people protesting will turn out to vote in November "and say 'hell no' to Agent Orange," a reference to President Trump.
Paraphrasing former President Barack Obama's recent words, Lee stated that he thought the upcoming election was the most important in the history of the modern world. As for the state of the world if Trump's remains in office? "This guy gets elected, the world is in peril... It's like this guy has never even heard of the constitution of the United States of America...things are bananas now. Bananas."
Watch the video above.
To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
- Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
- Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.
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