Spike Lee Rails Against 'Christopher Columbus Syndrome' in Gentrification Debate

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Spike Lee

The filmmaker delivered extended, uncensored comments during a speaking engagement at a Brooklyn college campus on Tuesday night.

Spike Lee isn't known for toning down his opinions during his public appearances, and on Tuesday night the filmmaker reportedly delivered fiery remarks about gentrification, hipsters and "Christopher Columbus Syndrome" at a Brooklyn college. 

The prolific director was invited to speak at the Pratt Institute campus as part of Black History Month programming. But it appears a question from an audience member set off Lee on an extended, headline-making riff on demographically changing New York neighborhoods. 

"You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here? Get the f--- outta here," he told the audience, according to audio and a transcript posted by New York magazine.

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Earlier in the remarks, Lee railed against "Christopher Columbus syndrome," noting changing norms in several New York boroughs. 

"Then comes the motherf---in’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherf---in’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud," he said. 

Lee, who has set many titles  -- including Do the Right Thing, Clockers and, recently, Red Hook Summer -- in Brooklyn neighborhoods, also lamented rising rent and the "hipster" appropriation of neighborhood names. New York magazine's audio of the remarks is below.