As police unions across the country unite in a boycott of Quentin Tarantino's movies, the Academy Award winner publicly defended himself Tuesday to say his words are being misrepresented.
Tarantino, 52, struck a nerve with police when he appeared at an Oct. 24 rally in New York City and — according to the unions — equated police with murderers.
"All cops are not murderers," Tarantino told the Los Angeles Times in his first comments since the controversy erupted. "I never said that. I never even implied that."
Instead, the "Pulp Fiction" filmmaker said, the law enforcement leaders are trying to make him a scapegoat rather than look at the "problem of police brutality in this country."
"And their message is very clear. It's to shut me down. It's to discredit me. It is to intimidate me," he told the newspaper. "It is to shut my mouth, and even more important than that, it is to send a message out to any other prominent person that might feel the need to join that side of the argument."
The three-day "Rise Up October" demonstration drew hundreds calling for resistance and an end to "police terror." But law enforcement officials criticized the march for its ill-timing: Four days earlier, NYPD Officer Randolph Holder was fatally struck by an armed suspect.
During the rally, Tarantino addressed the crowd and held up a photo of a man who died in police custody in 1999.
"I'm a human being with a conscience," Tarantino said. "And if you believe there's murder going on then you need to rise up and stand up against it. I'm here to say I'm on the side of the murdered."
The head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association of the City of New York quickly condemned the remarks, saying "the police officers that Quentin Tarantino calls 'murderers' aren't living in one of his depraved big screen fantasies — they're risking and sometimes sacrificing their lives to protect communities from real crime and mayhem."
Taratino's estranged father, Tony Tarantino, joined police to say his son was "dead wrong" for taking part in an "anti-cop protest."
Police unions in Los Angeles, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Chicago and Houston also expressed their anger last week and agreed to a boycott of Tarantino's movies. His upcoming flick, the blood-splattered Western, "The Hateful Eight," is due out Christmas Day.
Tarantino, meanwhile, said he won't be intimidated by the backlash.
"Frankly, it feels lousy to have a bunch of police mouthpieces call me a cop hater," he told The Times. "I'm not a cop hater. That is a misrepresentation. That is slanderous. That is not how I feel."