Samuel L. Jackson Sings Protest Song Referencing “Racist Police,” Challenges Celebs to Do the Same

In a video posted on his Facebook page on Saturday, the 65-year-old Pulp Fiction andAvengers star addresses celebs  who this past summer shared videos of themselves undergoing the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for charity efforts.

“All you celebrities out there who poured ice water on your head, here’s a chance to do something else,” he says. “I challenge all of you to sing the We Ain’t Gonna Stop Till People are Free song.”

He is making reference to a song sung by scores of people during demonstrations held in New York over the past week to protest recent killings of unarmed black men by white police officers. The song has even been sung by groups on the city subway.

It was first heard after a New York City grand jury issued a verdict on Dec. 3 not to indict a white police officer who killed Eric Garner, a 43-year-old African-American father of six, while placing him in a banned chokehold during an arrest. At the time, he said the words “I can’t breathe” multiple times. 

The lyrics to the song Jackson is referencing are: 

I can hear my neighbor crying, ‘I can’t breathe’

Now I’m in a struggle and I can’t leave

Calling out the violence of the racist police

We ain’t gonna stop till people are free

We ain’t gonna stop till people are free

“Come on,” the actor says. “Sing it out.”

Several racially-charged protests were held in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this summer following the killing of another unarmed African-American man, an 18-year-old named Michael Brown, by a white police officer. In November, he had also avoided an indictment, following a grand jury decision, which sparked more unrest.

At the time, Jackson tweeted, “66 yrs, processing the same Old S–t! It’s supposed to be different…It aint! Sorry for the Brown Family…The rest of us too!”

Many other celebrities, such as RihannaPharrell WilliamsKaty PerryMoby and John Legend, also took to social media to voice their opinions and feelings about the killings and unrest. In August, days after protests over Brown’s death began, the latter singer tweeted that he is happy that “white people are reporting on and protesting against” what he dubbed “racist police action.”

And some have done more than just talk. Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen had food trucks sent to protestors demonstrating in New York against the grand jury decision over Garner’s killing. In November, rapper Macklemore joined a protest about the Brown case in his native Seattle, as seen in this video by NBC affiliate KING-TV.

The demonstrations, which have been mostly peaceful, continue to this day and in major cities, even outside of the United States.

Last week, in London, British police arrested 76 people who staged a “die-in” to protest Garner’s killing, Reuters reported. The protests have reached Hollywood as well. On Friday, scores of demonstrators gathered on the Walk of Fame and used chalk to draw pictures and slogans, including “I can’t breathe,” around several celebs’ stars.

On Saturday, dozens of people swarmed inside and around a busy intersection and popular tourist spot, just yards away from where the red carpet is unrolled for the Oscars every year, and staged their own “die-in” protest. One held a sign that read, “I can’t breathe.” Others burned a U.S. flag in the middle of the street, The Los Angeles Times reported, providing a photo. Officers stomped out the flames, the newspaper said.

The demonstration brought traffic to a standstill for at least 30 minutes. With a police helicopter hovering overhead, officers in riot gear stormed the area and forced the crowd out of the street, Police arresting four people for failing to disperse, The Los Angeles Times said.

 



 

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