Spike Lee is always for the people, and he’s proved it once again.
As protests continue to flair up every night in America due to the killing of George Floyd, the director has debuted a new short film to shine an even greater light on the injustices that Black Americans have faced over the years. He’s always used his art to send a message, and this time around, that paints Floyd, Eric Garner, and Radio Raheem as brothers in solidarity.
When Will History Stop Repeating Itself?” it opens, before cutting to spliced-together clips, with the first being the heartbreaking interaction Eric Garner had with police in the summer of 2014. He emphatically says, “I’m minding my business officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time please just leave me alone.”
As the officers wrestle Garner to the ground, clips of the Do The Right Thing scene where Radio Raheem’s character gets killed after being put into a chokehold by NYPD are spliced in. Then, clips of last week’s murder of Floyd are added in just to show how similar the incidents all are–despite being 30 years apart.
The short film premiered during Lee’s appearance on CNN’s I Can’t Breathe: Black Men Living and Dying in America on May 31, anchored by Don Lemon. While Lemon interviewed him during the show, he spoke on the inspiration behind the 1989 cult classic film. It was inspired by the shooting of Eleanor Bumpurs in 1984 when police were ordered by the city to evict the elderly Black woman. Housing authorities claimed she was mentally disturbed, so they call in the NYPD to help, and it led to a struggle that ended with Bumpurs being fatally shot by a 12-gauge shotgun.
It was one of the many instances that led to racial tensions rising in NYC in the 1980s, which is not a far cry from the protests that have been occurring –amid a pandemic– because of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killing George Floyd.