Spike Lee Talks Chicago’s Violence On ESPN: The Director Of ‘Chi-Raq’ Gets It Right

Spike Lee loves the city of Chicago, but he detests Chicago violence. Whether you were a fan of his movie Chi-Raq or not is irrelevant. Spike Lee’s love for Chicago cannot be denied.

The famous director went on ESPN’s “First Take” to talk about his new short film 2 Fists Up. Spike Lee’s visit with First Take‘s Molly Qerim, Skip Bayless, and Stephen A. Smith turned into a serious discussion about Chicago’s gun violence. Spike Lee is pushing for a different Chicago. The Chi-Raq director was passionate about his desires for the city.


This comes just a week after it was reported by the Chicago Tribune that 69 people were shot in Chicago during a span of 76 hours on Memorial Day weekend. Six deaths took place as a result of the shootings. The victims of the shootings range from young to old. The youngest among the reported murders was a 15-year-old girl getting shot and killed. The oldest was a 57-year-old man who died from gunshot wounds.

Things have become so terrible that Chicago’s violence became a national story.


New York Times just recently published a story about the Chicago violence on Memorial Day weekend. The report speaks about Chicago’s violent Memorial Day weekend in great detail. Several stories are retold. They are startling depictions of how a proud city has succumbed to gangs and drugs. Many Chicagoans walk the same bullet-riddled streets that laid claim to 69 victims in a short time span. The ages of those people are as young as an 8-year-old child just trying to walk to and from school. One never knows if they will make it home alive.

According to Spike Lee, being alive is the one the kids look forward to.

Spike Lee attempted to point out the Chicago violence in his satire film Chi-Raq. On ESPN’s First Take, Lee and Stephen A. Smith take Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and President Barack Obama to task. They want them to “do something.”

Spike Lee and Stephen A. Smith also criticized the media for not talking about Chicago violence enough. They point out that the story about Harambe, the gorilla getting shot at a Cincinnatti zoo after a small child got inside of its exhibit, received more media coverage than Chicago’s violent Memorial Day weekend. It was suggested that Chicago violence was a secondary story.

Spike Lee also called out the Chicago Police Department for their part in Chicago’s unrest.

“This last week, there are black folks in Chicago who feel less important than a gorilla. That’s the reality.” Stephen A. Smith declares that Chicagoans feel less important than the gorilla. He might be right judging from the lack of outrage for Chicago violence. The conversation by everyone could spark a change if the message spreads.

Spike Lee 2 Spike Lee at a celebration for deceased singer Prince. [Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images]The video of Spike Lee’s discussion with Molly Qerim, Skip Bayless, and Stephen A. Smith was a rare moment in sports broadcasting, when a societal issue took over the talks in place of sports. Some viewers of First Take may have found the conversation unnerving and out of place. Oftentimes, those with the platforms that Spike Lee, Molly Qerim, Skip Bayless, and Stephen A. Smith have are told to stick to the topics they know. In this case, ESPN is a place where people go to get their sports stories from. It is likely that no one saw First Take going into the direction that it did.


We have to be reminded that sports figures used to take on issues that were bigger than they are. Shall we have no bigger reminder than the life of the now deceased humanitarian and boxer Muhammad Ali about how sports figures champion the causes that can make changes. What Spike Lee, Molly Qerim, Skip Bayless, and Stephen A. Smith attempted to do was have a conversation on a national forum which needed to be held. And while Spike Lee is not a sports figure, his movies cover societal issues that were being discussed on First Take.

Thankfully, they are not the only ones talking about it. Bill O’Reilly also spoke about Chicago’s violence.

They see the truth. Chicago violence has spun out of control and Mayor Rahm Emanuel needs to do something. Unfortunately, if Emanuel does not get the help that he needs from President Obama and others, Chicago violence will continue to desensitize American citizens. We need more conversations like Spike Lee, Molly Qerim, Skip Bayless, and Stephen A. Smith had.

[Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]