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Spike Lee Accused of ‘Stigmatizing’ Chicago as ‘Chiraq’

This April 29, 2014 file photo shows filmmaker and avid basketball fan Spike Lee at a news conference by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in New York announcing that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life by the league. Lee says his wife convinced him to turn his 1986 film "She's Gotta Have It" into a television series for Showtime. The original story focused on a woman's relationship with three men, exploring the issues of race, sexuality and gentrification in the neighborhood of Brooklyn. Showtime will decide whether the show gets picked up or not. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, FIle)


(The Chicago Sun-Times)—Director Spike Lee was accused Friday of “stigmatizing” Chicago and “insulting” its residents by choosing the name “Chiraq” for his upcoming Chicago-based movie on violence and education.

“It’s very offensive and, hopefully, he rethinks his position. He definitely needs to change the name. That’s an insult to the city of Chicago. I don’t care what he changes it to, but not that one,” said Far South Side Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), former chairman of the City Council’s Police Committee.

“People are stigmatizing Chicago unnecessarily. We have a lot of good communities. Yes, we have challenged areas and we’re attacking those challenging areas. But we don’t need anybody coming in trying to highlight the problems we’re having. To stigmatize our city as Chiraq is an insult to me and, I’m sure, to the rest of the residents of Chicago.”

Even if Lee handles the subject of violence with sensitivity in the film, the name alone would be destructive to the city’s efforts to attract jobs and take its rightful place as an international city, Beale said.



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