But the acclaimed director also told Jimmy Fallon that he feels encouraged by the protests nationwide: “People are going to come out to vote.”
JUNE 9, 2020
Spike Lee has a message for President Donald Trump: stop saying the name George Floyd.
“If I may say, sometimes I just think that he should just be quiet,” Lee told Jimmy Fallon on Monday’s episode of The Tonight Show. “For him to talk about, to speak for George Floyd looking down from heaven, saying that this is a great day in America? Just don’t say nothing! Stop! You should not be talking about [him], you should not be speaking about our brother!”
Last week, during a Rose Garden press conference about the nation’s latest job numbers, Trump invoked Floyd’s name—to much outrage and anger.
“Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement, regardless of race, color, gender or creed, they have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement,” Trump said. “They have to receive it. We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying, This is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality. It’s really what our constitution requires and it’s what our country is all about.”
In the aftermath of Floyd’s death on May 25 while in police custody, Lee released a short film that connected his 1989 masterpiece Do the Right Thing, in which the character Radio Raheem is put in a chokehold and killed by police, with the deaths of Floyd and Eric Garner, two real men who were killed by cops in a similar fashion.
“Jimmy, you know, when I saw Eric Garner, I’m like, ‘That’s Radio Raheem based on Michael Stewart,’” Lee said, referencing the New York graffiti artist whose 1983 death inspired the Do the Right Thing character. “And then to see our brother King Floyd, and I know that he saw what happened to Eric Garner. So he’s seeing that in his mind as his last eight and a half minutes are being suffocated out of him.”
But despite the fact that history is once again repeating itself, Lee said he has some hope for the future. “Jimmy, my brother, people are there,” the director said, noting he attended protests in New York on Sunday (while wearing a mask, on account of the coronavirus pandemic). “To see the young white generation, my sisters and brothers, they’re out there. It’s not just black and brown people. So I’m very, very enthusiastic that people around the world were galvanized by the horrific murder of George Floyd.”