At an October 24 rally in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, director Quentin Tarantino addressed a crowd of a few hundred people, decrying “police terror” and reading names of those killed by police officers across the country. Standing in front of a collage of enlarged photos depicting the faces of victims, Tarantino said, “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.” The director also defended his sharp rhetoric: “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.”
As Fox News and the New York Post turned on their outrage machines to emphasize, the rally occurred four days after a police officer was killed in East Harlem. Tarantino responded: “It’s like this: 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.” The rally marked the final day of a three-day series of planned national rallies in a coordinated protest called RiseUpOctober, which began on October 22. Tarantino also spoke a another rally that day in Times Square.
Unsurprisingly, the police have not taken too kindly to Tarantino’s words. The day after Tarantino’s speech, Patrolman’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch called the director a “purveyor of degeneracy” and called for a boycott of his movies. “It’s no surprise that someone who makes a living glorifying crime and violence is a cop-hater, too,” Lynch said in a statement. “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.” So, Lynch suggests, “New Yorkers need to send a message” by not seeing his movies.
Over the following week, more police unions across the country came out against Tarantino. Last Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Protective League released a statement supporting the boycott of the director’s films, followed by the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police and the New Jersey State Police Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association the following day. “It is hard not to see the anti-police rhetoric that has been stirred up in the nation over the past year,” New Jersey PPBA Pat Colligan said in a statement. “We don’t know if this irresponsible speech led directly to the recent murder of officers around the nation, but Mr. Tarantino should be mindful of the potential dangers that can result from the dangerous rhetoric once it is ingrained in the mind of a person who is willing to harm an officer.”
On Thursday, the protest against Tarantino went nationwide, as the National Association of Police Organizations endorsed the boycott. NAPO is an umbrella organization that advocates for law-enforcement efforts; it represents more than 1,000 police organizations around the country. On its website, the organization urged its 241,000 members to “stop working special assignments or off-duty jobs, such as providing security, traffic control or technical advice for any of Tarantino’s projects.”
This post has been updated throughout.