Spike Lee rails against New York’s gentrifiers

"Do the Right Thing" director slams recent articles lauding the upside of gentrification
February 26, 2014 04:50PM

Film director and lifelong Knicks fan Spike Lee spouted off Tuesday night against gentrification in his native Fort Greene and other parts of Brooklyn.

Asked what he thought of two recent stories in the New York Times and New York Magazine lauding the benefits of gentrification, Lee railed against what he called a lack of improvement in facilities until there is “an influx of white New Yorkers.”

He also lashed out at alleged newcomer complaints against noise and what he called the disruption of “a culture that’s been laid down for generations” in an f-bomb-laced speech. He also decried the uptick in rental costs, saying “People want to live in Fort Greene… Clinton Hill. The Lower East Side, they move to Williamsburg, they can’t even afford [expletive] Wililamsburg now because of [expletive] hipsters.”

Lee, whose home on the Upper East Side is currently on the market for $32 million, also took issue with neighborhood name changes, decrying gentrifiers for recasting Bushwick as “East Williamsburg” and Harlem between 110th and 125th streets “Stuyvesant Heights.”

“We had the crystal ball,” he added. “‘[In] Do the Right Thing’ with John Savage’s character, when he rolled his bike over Buggin’ Out’s sneaker. I wrote that script in 1988. He was the first one. How you walking around Brooklyn with a Larry Bird jersey on? You can’t do that. Not in Bed Stuy.” [NYM] Julie Strickland