Boots Riley Calls Out Spike Lee For Glorifying Cops In ‘BlacKkKlansman’

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Written by Ann Brown

 

Sorry to Bother You” director Boots Riley may have once considered Spike Lee an inspiration, but he’s not too happy about Lee’s latest film,  “BlacKkKlansman.” Riley took to Twitter to take Lee to task for making the film’s main character, the real-life FBI agent Ron Stallworth, looking heroic. Stallworth, says Riley, in fact, helped take down the Civil Rights movement as a member of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (Cointelpro), whose “objectives were to destroy radical organizations, especially black radical organizations.”

In “BlackKkKlansman” Stallworth (John David Washington), a Black detective who infiltrates a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan with his white partner (Adam Driver). While based on a true story, Riley said thinks the film is based on “fabricated story notes” about its protagonists.

“The director argued that the purpose of ‘BlacKkKlansman’s’ alleged revisionist history is to portray the police in a more favorable light in an attempt to soften relations between law enforcement and people of color amid the Black Lives Matter movement. In support of his claim, Riley questions the validity of Stallworth’s memoir and its film adaptation, which credits Stallworth and his partner for halting white supremacist attacks, including an attempted bombing,” Variety reported.

In a three-page Twitter rant, Riley said: “It’s a made up story in which the false parts of it try to make a cop the protagonist in the fight against racist oppression. It’s being put while Black Lives Matter is a discussion, and this is not coincidental.”

Riley goes as far as to suggest Lee is in cahoots with law enforcement to make them look “good.” He tweeted: “Stallworth wrote a memoir to put himself in a different light, but let’s look at what else we know. There was no bombing that Stallworth or the police thwarted. This was not in Stallworth’s memoir. That was made up for the movie to make the police seem like heroes.”

Director Boots Riley poses for a portrait to promote the film, “Sorry to Bother You”, at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

 

Riley points out that  Lee received a $200,000 consultancy fee from the NYPD “to help in an ad campaign that was ‘aimed at improving relations with minority communities.”

“The Foundation approached and consulted several creative teams including the Spike DDB agency to help develop a public awareness campaign that would aim to strengthen the partnership between the NYPD and the communities it serves,” Brady Littlefield, a spokesman for the Foundation, told Okay Player. “We received tremendous input and ideas, and that process ultimately resulted in last spring’s neighborhood policing ad campaign.”

And, notes Riley considering the state of the relationship between law enforcement and the Black community, the movie is an injustice. “[T]o the extent that people of color deal with actual physical attacks and terrorizing due to racism and racist doctrines — we deal with it mostly from the police on a day to day basis. And not just from White cops. From Black cops too. So for Spike to come out with a movie where a story points are fabricated in order make Black cop and his counterparts look like allies in the fight against racism is really disappointing, to put it very mildly,” Riley wrote.

Riley goes in on Stallworth’s action, tweeting: “When white supremacist organizations were infiltrated by the FBI and the cops, it was not to disrupt them. They weren’t disrupted. It was to use them to threaten and/or physically attack radical organizations. There was no directive to stop the rise of white supremacist organizations.” And Riley claimed Stallworth was part of the effort to attack the African-American community during the Civil Rights Movement, including church bombings in Birmingham, Ala., among other events.

Riley declared, “I’m not gonna hold my tongue.”

Although Lee has been silent, Stallworth has responded Riley by simply saying: “I pray for my demented and dissolute brother.”

 

Ann Brown
Image Attribution: Director Boots Riley poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Sorry to Bother You", at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP), Director Boots Riley poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Sorry to Bother You", at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP) Spike Lee attends the premiere of "BlacKkKlansman" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Monday, July 30, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)