“Stop shooting unarmed people.”
This was the main message that Quentin Tarantino had in 2015. Given the massive social movement sparked by the death of George Floyd and that the countless incidents of police brutality, specifically against the African American and Latino population, this comment doesn’t seem all that controversial. But the truth is, Quentin got into a lot of trouble for saying this. In particular, the police unions were all over him and boycotted his movie — at the time, he was releasing The Hateful Eight and also embroiled in conflict with Disney. Here’s are the most important details of his conflict with the police in 2015 and exactly what his message was, according to the master filmmaker himself.
Quentin’s Speech At Rise Up October
According to Vox, Quentin Tarantino attended the Rise Up October rally in New York in late October 2015. It has been described as a mass demonstration of those fighting against police brutality. Quentin has said this has always been an issue he’s cared deeply about and therefore he wanted to publically lend his support. The Pulp Fiction director made himself known at the rally, giving a speech for all to hear. In this speech were a number of things police unions, as well as his more pro-police fans, felt were deeply offensive. At the same time, he got a lot of people talking and praising what he was saying.
Quentin’s speech at Rise Up October was short as he gave most of his time to the families of those who had died in police custody. But his message was passionate:
“I’m a human being with a conscience. And when I see murder I cannot stand by. And I have to call the murdered the murdered, and I have to call the murderers the murderers.”
In response to this, Patrick Lynch, the president of a labor union for police, New York’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, told The New York Post: “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.”
This was followed by a call to boycott Quentin’s movies.
Quentin Gives More Context
Immediately after being boycotted and called out by police unions and the like, Quentin was interviewed by the L.A. Times and said this:
“Instead of dealing with the incidents of police brutality that those people were bringing up, instead of examining the problem of police brutality in this country, better they single me out. And their message is very clear. It’s to shut me down. It’s to discredit me. It is to intimidate me. It is to shut my mouth, and even more important than that, it is to send a message out to any other prominent person that might feel the need to join that side of the argument.”
After these comments, some, including journalists at Vox, claimed that Quentin was just trying to get out of some previous bad press by taking a public stand like this. Others have praised Quentin for taking a stand for an issue that’s still horrifically relevant today.
In the days following the boycott against him (which didn’t result in much of a box office loss for The Hateful Eight), Bill went on Real Time With Bill Maher and The Howard Stern Show to shed more light on his comments and the issue at large. Both Howard and Bill seemed to have an understanding about what Quentin was trying to say.
“In particular, for the last year and a half, I’ve been, like a lot of people, sitting on my couch watching television. And watching seemingly one sickening incident after another that never seems to stop. Literally, unarmed people being shot and killed. You talk to Black folks and they’ll say, ‘Hey, this s*** didn’t start a year and a half ago. But now with phones capturing this footage. And seeing it, that seems pretty undeniable,” Quentin told Howard Stern before going into the fact that Rise Up October had reached out to him and asked if he would lend his voice to their movement. “This must stop. They must stop killing these people. And there is this institutional racism that is just bred in law enforcement that’s happened in the last thirty years and it needs to stop!”
Quentin also told Howard that he didn’t like how the topic of police brutality was spun into his movie promotion, the movie boycott, or about his celebrity because it detracted from what he was actually saying.
“The lie [the police union president told] is that you think all cops are murders and that’s not what the statement says,” Bill Maher said.
“Exactly,” Quentin responded, re-explaining what he meant about holding the cops who have killed unarmed citizens accountable.
After showing a video of an unarmed man getting tased by a police officer and then shot, Quentin described what he felt was the biggest issue in this whole ugly situation.
“This is a hydra. It’s a snake with many heads. But I actually think the biggest head that needs to be chopped off first is the blue wall idea. The fact that [the police unions] would protect their own as opposed to putting themselves at the betterment of citizenry. I actually don’t think it’s an issue of individuals; good cops versus bad cops. I think it’s inside of the institution itself. If they were serious about this, they wouldn’t close rank on what I’m obviously talking about, which is bad cops. And I’m obviously talking about specific cases where it is murder, as far as I’m concerned.”