Warning: the following video contains footage of the murder of black men by police officers.
Spike Lee has released a short film highlighting the brutality black men in America have suffered at the hands of the police and drawing parallels between the murders of George Floyd and Eric Garner with that of his Do the Right Thing character Radio Raheem.
Opening with the words “Will History Stop Repeating Itself”, the film, titled 3 Brothers, pulls together footage from the arrests and killings of Floyd and Garner with scenes from his 1989 film, in which Raheem dies after being choked by police officers.
Floyd died last Monday (May 25) in Minneapolis after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine minutes ignoring his cries of “please, I can’t breathe”. Chauvin and the three other officers involved in the arrest were fired, and Chauvin has since been arrested on suspicion of third-degree murder and manslaughter – the other officers have not been charged. Garner was killed during his arrest in Staten Island, New York in 2014. The officer involved, Daniel Pantaleo, was also not charged.
Alongside the film, Lee appeared on CNN to discuss the protests that have erupted across the US and around the world in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder. In an interview with Don Lemon, the filmmaker questioned those people who are not sympathetic to the protests.
“How can people not understand why people are acting the way they are?” he said. “This is not new, we saw with the riots in the 60s, the assassination of Dr King, every time something jumps off and we don’t get our justice, people are reacting the way they feel they have to to be heard.”
“What we are seeing today is not new,” he continued. “This is not new. We’ve seen this again and again and again. People are fed up and people are tired of the debasing, the killing of black bodies. That is what this country is built upon.”
"The attack on black bodies has been here from the get-go," says filmmaker Spike Lee, responding to protests over George Floyd's death. "...I am not condoning all this other stuff but I understand why people are doing what they are doing." https://t.co/K5Gzn1gRT0pic.twitter.com/sxnZJ9xRpi
Wearing a t-shirt carrying the date 1619, Lee said the attack on black bodies has been present since the first arrival of slaves to Virginia. The difference now, he says, is that we have cameras. “The foundation of the United States of America is built upon the stealing of the land from the native people and genocide, coupled with slavery... I am not condoning this other stuff but I understand why people are doing what they are doing.”
With more protests around the world planned throughout this week, read our guide on how to protest safely here, and learn how to be a better ally here.