Several cities across the US resembled war zones as crowds defied curfews to protest the death of George Floyd, who spent his last moments pinned under an officer’s knee on his neck, begging for his life.
Lucifer stars, including D.B. Woodside, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Tom Ellis and Lauren German are responding to the pain being felt all across the country.
Government officials, law enforcement officers and protesters are preparing for a sixth night of mass demonstrations after Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
Peaceful protests began in the Twin Cities and rapidly spread to metropolitan areas across rural and urban America, escalating in numbers and force as some demonstrators and law enforcement officers began to clash.
The National Guard was mobilized.
Buildings were burned and businesses looted.
Civilians have been placed under curfew by government officials and fired upon with rubber bullets, pepper pellets and tear gas by authorities in riot gear.
Hundreds have been arrested.
It remains unclear whether tensions nationwide are calming or escalating.
In the midst of the chaos, Lucifer star D.B. Woodside pointed out that racial issues have been ongoing
“If you follow me, y’all already know what I fucking think. #NoJusticeNoPeace,” tweeted D.B.
If you follow me… y’all already know what I fucking think. #NoJusticeNoPeace
— DB Woodside (@dbwofficial) May 31, 2020
He then added: “We‘ve been forced to sit on curbs, slammed on hoods, handcuffed, guns jammed in our faces, frisked, violated, told to stay in our lanes, told to smile more, laugh more, don’t be threatening, told to JUMP THROUGH HOOPS that whites don’t have to jump through! We’ve had ENOUGH!!”
We‘ve been forced to sit on curbs, slammed on hoods, handcuffed, guns jammed in our faces, frisked, violated, told to stay in our lanes, told to smile more, laugh more, don’t be threatening, told to JUMP THROUGH HOOPS that whites don’t have to jump through! We’ve had ENOUGH!!
— DB Woodside (@dbwofficial) May 31, 2020
Lucifer used one of its season 4 episodes to tackle race in America, something it had never done before.
In the season’s eighth episode, titled “Super Bad Boyfriend,” Amenadiel, played by Woodside, wonders what fatherhood will be like.
He meets and ends up mentoring a young black boy named Caleb who is involved in Lucifer and Chloe’s latest case.
Through this friendship, Amenadiel receives a sobering look at what it’s like to be black in America, something he’s never to confront before because race isn’t a thing in the Silver City, and it makes him question whether or not he wants to raise his son here.
“What we realized as we wrote the season is that we needed to twin in it with a moment where it would affect Amenadiel the most, where it would be the biggest gut-punch,” says co-showrunner Joe Henderson. “What we ended up realizing is tying it to the son, tying it to this idea of Amenadiel having a new family for the first time and that idea of, sure, he knew what racism was, he knew about humanity from a 10,000-foot-high perspective but actually experiencing it at this moment where he’s so emotionally vulnerable because he’s having to take care of someone so vulnerable.”
Woodside said at the time he was both excited and nervous to tackle the race issue in the episode.
“Because I’m the only African-American cast-mate, you always feel an extraordinary amount of responsibility when dealing with storylines that pertain to race relations in our country, especially since they’re more obvious to more people now,” said Woodside. “There’s absolutely nothing new in this episode or nothing new in the country that we don’t live with every day since the day of our birth. It’s sad, but true.”
Hostile encounters with the police like this was nothing new for Woodside, who said he has been pulled over for no other reason than the cops think he’s driving too nice of a car.
In incidents like that, though, the most astonishing and unsettling thing is when they suddenly start treating him differently when they realize he’s a television actor.
“That’s not okay with me. You shouldn’t all of a sudden treat me better just because you realize I’m one of those characters on your favorite television show. I should be treated the same way regardless,” he said.
Lucifer himself, Tom Ellis, has organized a GoFundMe fundraising effort for Black Lives Matter, the organization founded following the death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman.
“All of us need to do more than just express outrage,” tweeted Ellis. “Let’s be helpful. If you can, please help me in supporting @Blklivesmatter in their defense of black life.”
— tom ellis (@tomellis17) May 31, 2020
The fundraiser has generated almost $15,000 in just a day.
Meaghan Oppenheimer responded this morning to fans who wondered if BLM was the best group to donate to.
“A few people asking why Tom set up a GoFundMe instead of retweeting existing ones,” tweeted Oppenheimer. “The truth is we’ve noticed his fans donate more if his name is attached. In the past we retweeted links & unfortunately found our retweet didn’t boost donations much. Donate to ANY group helping.”
A few people asking why Tom set up a GoFundMe instead of retweeting existing ones. The truth is we’ve noticed his fans donate more if his name is attached. In the past we retweeted links & unfortunately found our retweet didn’t boost donations much. Donate to ANY group helping.
— Meaghan Oppenheimer (@MoppyOpps) May 31, 2020
The current riots, experts say, are demands for justice among those who claim they’ve been unfairly targeted for years.
They ignite when people feel as though they have nothing left to lose, when the usual channels for affecting change in a democracy – nonviolent protest, voting – have been ineffective.
It’s something that hits close to home for Lucifer’s Lesley-Ann Brandt.
“My father told about the rage and pain he walked around with inside as a young man living in apartheid in South Africa,” she tweeted. “To understand what’s happening , you must understand the pain.”
My father told about the rage and pain he walked around with inside as a young man living in apartheid in South Africa. To understand what’s happening , you must understand the pain.
— 📎Lesley-Ann Brandt (@LesleyAnnBrandt) May 30, 2020
Brandt also encouraged more white citizens to speak loudly against racism.
“For some of us though, as in black in people, it’s not our jobs to speak up. Yet we do,” she tweeted. “I’d be lying if I said wished people who’ve grown up benefiting from this system of racial inequality, would get louder. Would speak up. Would look at why they are afraid to.”
For some of us though, as in black in people, it’s not our jobs to speak up. Yet we do. I’d be lying if I said wished people who’ve grown up benefitting from this system of racial in equality, would get louder. Would speak up. Would look at why they are afraid to. https://t.co/1tR66pGreY
— 📎Lesley-Ann Brandt (@LesleyAnnBrandt) May 31, 2020
Lucifer’s Lauren German weighed in, imploring people to stop the brutality.
“There must be a way people can peacefully #protests2020 without further violence and wreckage,” she wrote. “This brutality has to stop. #BlackLivesMatter We need justice and fairness to find it’s well overdue balance in this society.
There must be a way people can peacefully #protests2020 without further violence and wreckage. This brutality has to stop. #BlackLivesMatter We need justice and fairness to find it’s well overdue balance in this society.
— Lauren German (@LaurenGerman) May 31, 2020
Later Sunday, German tweeted: “Police brutality is one unacceptable thing, but this was an outright murder.”
Police brutality is one unacceptable thing, but this was an outright murder.
— Lauren German (@LaurenGerman) June 1, 2020
Lucifer’s co-showrunner Ildy Modrovic simply tweeted “#BLM.”
— Ildy Modrovich (@Ildymojo) May 30, 2020
Lucifer’s other co-showrunner Joe Henderson expressed disappointed in Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s decision in deploying the National Guard.
“I was an ardent supporter of yours. No more. This has been shameful and horribly handled,” wrote Henderson.
I was an ardent supporter of yours. No more. This has been shameful and horribly handled.
— Joe Henderson (@Henderson_Joe) May 31, 2020
The question now, as May turns to June, is whether the events of a hot summer weekend — which saw police escalate their tactics against protesters as parts of cities were set ablaze — would mark the climax of the unrest, or instead its onset.
“We’re at a crossroads,” said Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter and a professor at California State University at Los Angeles. “Either the existing system of repressive and brutal policing is going to continue to assert itself, and the powers that be will sign off on it, or they will get the message that the people are sending, that we cannot continue with this form of policing in this country.”