Spike Lee Ended The ‘Chi-Raq’ Premiere With a Protest Instead of a Party

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Spike Lee held a press conference/protest in Times Square Tuesday night, speaking out against gun violence following the New York premiere of his latest film, Chi-Raq.

According to Variety, Lee led the attendees of the premiere from the screening at the Ziegfeld Theater to Times Square, where he spoke on a stage flanked by the Rev. Al Sharpton and Pastor Michael Pfleger. John Turturro, Wesley Snipes and John Cusack were also among the attendees. Protesters wore orange hats and pins handed out at theater, which were meant to evoke a hunter’s safety vest, as a sign of solidarity.

Chi-Raq, which opens this week, is a musical comedy based on the greek play Lysistrata, where a group of women in Chicago decide to without sex from their significant others until they get rid of their guns.

“It was great in 411 B.C. — it’ll work today,” Lee said Tuesday night. “This film is about changing lives.”

The film is also first feature film produced by Amazon’s original content division, Amazon Studios. Co-writer Kevin Wilmott said he and Lee had been working on a version of the film for many years before Amazon Studios picked up the project.

The film’s themes — racism and gun violence — have become especially poignant in the wake of large protests in Chicago over the 2014 death of 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald. Video footage released last week revealed that the white Chicago police officer who shot and killed McDonald, an African-American teenager, continued firing even after he had fallen to the ground.

Chi-Raq opens in theaters December 4.