His breakthrough film, Do The Right Thing, warned about racial prejudice and police brutality. Now Spike Lee says Donald Trump has to go or nothing will change.
His breakthrough film, Do The Right Thing, warned about racial prejudice and police brutality. Now Spike Lee says Donald Trump has to go or nothing will change.

Spike Lee says the world's ‘in peril’ if Trump wins election

Oscar-winner Spike Lee has warned "the world will be in peril" if US President Donald Trump is not voted out at the next election.

The prolific filmmaker, known for his works highlighting racial prejudice and injustice, told News Corp Australia he hopes the next Presidential election - set down for November this year - will bring about change.

"(Trump) has to go. It is my belief that if this guy wins again, the world will be in peril," he said.

"Not just the United States of America, the world."

Speaking just an hour before all four Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd were charged and now stand accused of his murder, Lee weighed in about the race riots which have swept the US.

George Floyd’s death has sparked international outrage. Picture: Christopher Harris via AP
George Floyd’s death has sparked international outrage. Picture: Christopher Harris via AP

"This is not new. It's been going on for 400 years, with history always repeating itself. Black people are still being killed left and right, many times by the police, and to add insult to injury, these murderers walk free."

"I made Do the Right Thing 31 years ago (a film about racial tension culminating in death on a hot summer's day in Brooklyn). You have to ask yourself, 'how much has changed?'"

Despite the horrors of racism and police brutality, Lee is of the glass half-full perspective.

"What gives me optimism is to see the young white generation, my young sisters and brothers who have joined us in the streets, like they did in the 60s when I was growing up. That has been very, very uplifting to me - it's not just black or brown people, but an enormous outpouring of white righteous people taking to the streets. They're saying, excuse my language, 'F--k this! This s--t has to stop.'"

It’s been 31 years since Lee released his seminal film, Do The Right Thing. Picture: AP
It’s been 31 years since Lee released his seminal film, Do The Right Thing. Picture: AP

Support for the international human rights movement, Black Lives Matter, has inspired thousands around the world to take to the streets in solidarity with those in the US, voicing their revulsion at the George Floyd murder.

"I think it's very important that people look at what has happened in America, but more importantly, look at what's happening in your own country," he said, passionately.

"The United States of America is not the only country that has racial problems. Look at that guy in Brazil (President Bolsonaro). He's just as bad as Agent Orange (President Trump). He's just lucky that people are looking at other world matters. And yes, Australia has history, too. Let's be honest."

Lee also defends the mass protests, explaining "I don't call them riots, I call them uprisings. Riot is a very negative word so let's be careful, words matter."

"The looting that's going on is (being done by) a very small percentage of the peaceful black, white, brown, and red protesters, who have come out of their homes to speak truth to power across the United States of America. It only takes one person to throw a garbage can through a window. The majority of the people in this country who are participating in the uprising are law-abiding citizens exercising their rights in a city in the United States of America," he said.

"So, let's not get sidetracked by the looting. It shouldn't have happened … it happened … but you are always going to have some people who are going to take advantage of it."

Lee is promoting his upcoming Netflix movie, Da 5 Bloods, about a group of African-American war veterans returning to Vietnam to find the remains of their fallen squad leader and the gold fortune he helped them hide.

 

Isiah Whitlock Jr, Norm Lewis, Clarke Peters, Delroy Lindo and Jonathan Majors in a scene from the movie Da 5 Bloods. Supplied by Netflix.
Isiah Whitlock Jr, Norm Lewis, Clarke Peters, Delroy Lindo and Jonathan Majors in a scene from the movie Da 5 Bloods. Supplied by Netflix.

There's a scene in which one of the army veterans, played by Delroy Lindo, is wearing a red MAGA (Make American Great Again) hat.

The slogan is, of course, Trump's calling card, regularly intoned by Trump loyalists.

"I don't call him by name. I call him Agent Orange, and the pun is intended when it's in a Vietnam film."

Da 5 Bloods release is timely considering the escalating protests in the streets, harking back to tensions which erupted just as volcanically onto the streets during the Vietnam War era.

"I remember the anti-war protests, but I was 11 years old then. And of course, I remember the riots when Doctor King got assassinated."

Lee spoke on a video conferencing app, from his home in Brooklyn. If not for the world pandemic, this interview would have been held at the Cannes Film Festival.

"God works in mysterious ways," Lee said, chuckling.

"We all had plans. My plan was that I was going to be the President of the Jury in Cannes, and the Da 5 Bloods world premiere would have been in Cannes. And after that we would get a theatrical run like (Martin) Scorsese had with The Irishman last year. But there's that thing called COVID-19 that changed plans for us all."

* Da 5 Bloods, streaming from June 12, on Netflix

Originally published as Spike Lee: World 'in peril' if Trump is not voted out



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