Why the NYPD union wants a boycott of Quentin Tarantino films

Days after an NYPD officer was killed on duty, the filmmaker participated in local protest against police brutality. Are movements like Black Lives Matter inherently anti-police?

Patrick Sison/AP
Director Quentin Tarantino, center, participates in a rally to protest against police brutality Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in New York. Speakers at the protest said they want to bring justice for those who were killed by police. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

To filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, it may have felt like awkward timing. But for his critics, it was a deeply insensitive act.

The New York City Police Department’s union is demanding a boycott of his films after the Academy Award-winning director participated in a local protest against police brutality only days after an officer was killed by a suspect.

“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,” said union president Patrick J. Lynch, in a statement.

“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’," he said.

Mr. Tarantino flew in from California to speak at the demonstration that was organized by the group #RiseUpOctober, which aims to bring justice to those they say have been mistreated by law enforcement.

But the demonstration came on the heels of tragedy. On Tuesday, NYPD Officer Randolph Holder was shot and killed by a suspect while in pursuit.

Mr. Tarantino told The New York Post, “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.”

Given the timing, was the demonstration innately anti-police?

Chris Christie might say so. In an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday, the New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate said the Black Lives Matter movement advocates for the killing of police.

"I don't believe that movement should be calling for the murder of police officers," said Governor Christie in a critique of the president’s support for the movement. “They've been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers."

Actually, very few Black Lives Matter participants advocate killing police. But the movement's sharp criticism of law enforcement has led many to share Christie’s sentiments. But is that really the case?

Campaign Zero is a package of policy proposals conceived by activists participating in the wider movement against problematic policing. It calls for ceasing so-called broken window policing, limiting use of force by police, demilitarizing police departments, implementing body cameras, increasing community oversight and establishing community representation in police departments, improving police training, and rewriting union contracts to ensure more effective oversight of misconduct investigations, among other reforms.

Writing for Vox, German Lopez argued that many of these demands are feasible and non-controversial:

The policy proposals are fairly reasonable. As much as this is a wish list for the Black Lives Matter movement, it's also a list of proposals that I have personally heard and seen from criminal justice experts over the past year — including the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Nothing in the list stuck out as particularly surprising, shocking, or unfeasible to me — although police advocates will certainly argue that some of the ideas, such as a higher legal standard for allowing use of force, could endanger officers' lives.

For one, body cameras have proven to be beneficial to both officers and civilians, though some unions have tried to block the use of them.

So far, law enforcement constituents have rarely met with activists, and the main barrier seems to be perceived rhetoric.   

On the positive side: no matter the divisions, there does seem to be some bipartisan support for modest criminal justice reform in Congress, which has not been able to pass significant legislation in years.

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