American film writer Quentin Tarantino joined a group of activists marching in New York City on Saturday to protest police brutality. Tarantino, the Oscar-winning director behind films like Pulp Fiction, the Kill Bill series and Inglourious Basterds, also spoke to a crowd of protesters at Washington Square Park, drawing support from protesters but criticism from the New York Police Department, which called for a boycott of Tarantino's films.
"I'm a human being with a conscience," Tarantino told a crowd at the rally in Greenwich Village, per an Associated Press report published by the New York Times. "And if you believe there's murder going on, then you need to rise up and stand up against it. I'm here to say I'm on the side of the murdered."
According to the Associated Press, Tarantino traveled from California to attend the rally, which was the third protest in a week from a group of activist using the hashtag #RiseUpOctober to raise awareness and mobilize activists to speak out against police brutality. Rise Up October activists argue for racial justice, much like the Black Lives Batter movement, and came together in response to a recent string of police-related deaths in the United States.
Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, issued a statement following the protest and Tarantino's high-profile appearance.
"It's no surprise that someone who makes a living glorifying crime and violence is a cop-hater, too," Lynch said in the statement. "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."
"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," Lynch's statement reads. "It's time for a boycott of Quentin Tarantino's films."
This isn't the first time Tarantino has weighed in on police brutality, particularly as it relates to race relations. An upcoming film from Tarantino, The Hateful Eight, set for release in January, depicts bounty hunters in post-Civil War Wyoming. Speaking to New York, Tarantino said the film was "timely" considering the recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore.
"It just happens to be timely right now," he told New York. "We're not trying to make it timely. It is timely. I love the fact that people are talking and dealing with the institutional racism that has existed in this country and been ignored."
"I feel like it's another '60s moment, where the people themselves had to expose how ugly they were before things could change," Tarantino told the magazine. "I'm hopeful that that's happening now."
Here are photos and Tweets from the #RiseUpOctober protest in New York: