Standing before a crowd of hundreds in Washington Square Park on Saturday, director Quentin Tarantino spoke out against, in his words, “police terror.”
The rally was part of RiseUpOctober and the last in a three-day series of gatherings against police brutality across the country. With a collage of victims’ photos as his backdrop, Tarantino read the names of those killed by police in America. Some choice excerpts from his speech:
This is not being dealt with in any way at all. That’s why we are out here. If it was being dealt with, then these murdering cops would be in jail or at least be facing charges… I’m a human being with a conscience… When I see murders, I do not stand by… I have to call a murder a murder, and I have to call the murderers the murderers.
Maybe it’s not surprising that a guy responsible for dialogue you can’t print in a family newspaper would go in for the jugular, rhetoric-wise, but his words did not sit well with the New York Police Department, especially in light of the fact that this particular rally occurred just four days after a police officer was killed in East Harlem. NYPD officer Randolph Holder was gunned down on Tuesday night; Tyrone Howard, the man accused of shooting Holder, has been charged with first-degree murder and robbery.
Patrick Lynch, president of the largest police union in New York City, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, called for a boycott of Tarantino’s films. In a statement, Lynch railed against Tarantino’s work — “It’s no surprise that someone who makes a living glorifying crime and violence is a cop-hater, too” — and responded directly to Tarantino’s words at the rally. “The police officers that Quentin Tarantino calls ‘murderers’ aren’t living in one of his depraved big-screen fantasies — they’re risking and sometimes sacrificing their lives to protect communities from real crime and mayhem. New Yorkers need to send a message to this purveyor of degeneracy that he has no business coming to our city to peddle his slanderous ‘Cop Fiction.’”
For what it’s worth, Tarantino allows that the timing is “unfortunate” and also considers Holder’s death a “tragedy,” but felt he couldn’t cancel because “we’ve flown in all these families to go and tell their stories.” According to the New York Post, relatives of Holder were not satisfied; one cousin called Tarantino’s actions “very disrespectful.”
Lynch also released a letter in the aftermath of the release of security footage showing NYPD officers misidentifying, tackling, detaining and handcuffing James Blake, a former tennis star. (Blake was in town for the U.S. Open; police mistook him for a suspect in an identity-theft ring.) Lynch lashed out against “another knee-jerk reaction from ivory tower pundits who enjoy the safety provided by our police department without understanding the very real risks that we take to provide that safety,” calling the criticism of the NYPD “irresponsible, unjust and un-American.”
Last December, Lynch accused protesters and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio of bearing some responsibility for the execution-style murders of two police officers.