Quentin Tarantino is a writer and director known for his portrayal of violence amidst non-linear narratives, and is one of the great directors of the age. The unique way in which he portrays the aesthetics of violence in his neo-noir movies is unparalleled in modern cinema. But it seems that recently he has shifted his gaze to social injustice.
Tarantino joined hundreds of protesters on the streets of New York last Saturday to protest police brutality. After gathering in Washington Square Park the group marched along Sixth Avenue, bearing anti-cop signs and pictures depicting victims of police violence, as they shouted through megaphones.
The signs which littered the event displayed slogans such as, “Rise Up! Stop Police Terror!” and, “Murder with a badge is still murder,” as the 300-strong crowd chanted, "No racist police!"
Associated Press reports that Tarantino took center stage, voicing the following:
"I'm a human being with a conscience. And if you believe there's murder going on then you need to rise up and stand up against it. I'm here to say I'm on the side of the murdered."
There have been two other protests in New York this week, all three were organized by RiseUpOctober and took place to honor the victims of supposed police brutality.
Of those participating in the protest, many had experienced police brutality and others had relatives among the fallen. Temako Williams' son, La-Reko Williams, was killed in 2011, after which she was awarded $500,000 compensation due to confirmed police brutality. She said:
"It wasn't worth the price of my son's life. It's a wound that won't heal."
Despite a police presence throughout, the protest was peaceful and progressed without incident. However, the event highlights the social unrest which exists in New York and throughout the United States, as an ever growing number of people rally against police brutality, especially towards African Americans.
Two Sides to Every Story
As is to be expected, the NYPD have responded to Tarantino's comments at the rally, clearly perturbed by his presence. Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, said the following in response to Tarantino's outspoken cries against police brutality.
"It’s no surprise that someone who makes a living glorifying crime and violence is a cop-hater, too."
"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."
Lynch went on to push for a boycott of Tarantino's films, clearly furious at his involvement.
“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.’ It’s time for a boycott of Quentin Tarantino’s films.”
Unfortunately for Tarantino and the organizers of RiseUpOctober, their protest was situated just four days after the death of Officer Randolph Holder, who had been shot dead in east Harlem during an incident involving a suspected thief, who has since been charged with robbery and murder.
Randolph Holder's grandmother Ms. Lovell was quoted as saying the following:
“I could have died. The phone fell out of my hands, and I had to go sit in a corner. I felt weak, weak, weak. Like I didn’t know what to do.”
A former immigrant from Guyana, Holder achieved his dreams of becoming a police officer like his father, and was well on his way to receiving his detective's shield.
The advocate of the American dream was shot down in his prime, fueling the fury of the New York police department as they face anti-cop protesters just days after Holder's funeral.
Our thoughts are with Holder's family, friends, and colleagues in this painful time; it's a fate deserved by no one, but which is all too often experienced by those who choose to protect and serve.
Tensions are high on both sides of the line, as New York police officers mourn their fallen friend and colleague while anti-cop protesters continue to argue against the ever-present issue of police brutality.
When asked for a quote, Holder's cousin Shauntel Abrams said the following:
"I think it's very disrespectful. Everyone forgets that behind the uniform is a person."
Whereas Tarantino has said the following in response to the issue:
“It’s unfortunate timing, but we’ve flown in all these families to go and tell their stories … That cop that was killed, that’s a tragedy too.”
Police brutality is a real crucible of the age, so it's good to see a huge figure like Quentin Tarantino putting his name behind such an important issue, and adding his powerful voice to a just cause.
However, the NYPD are struggling through a time of extreme hardship; should they really be forced to deal with accusations of brutality when their colleague is barely buried? Does the murder of a good police officer mean the death of police brutality victims are less significant?
Watch Tarantino's speech below and let us know your thoughts on this issue.