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Spike Lee rant takes on gentrification

Spike Lee ranted about the gentrification of Brooklyn

Spike Lee ranted about the gentrification of Brooklyn neighborhoods during a Black History Month speech at the Pratt Institute on Feb. 26, 2014. Credit: Getty Images

Spike Lee criticized gentrification of once-poor neighborhoods in Brooklyn and other parts of New York City during a profanity-laced diatribe during a Black History Month speech at Pratt Institute.

The 10-minute rant Tuesday by the film director was in response to a question about the "other side" of gentrification.

"I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It's changed," said Lee, 56. "And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the South Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed-Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better?"

"You can't just come in when people have a culture that's been laid down for generations and you come in and now [expletive] gotta change because you're here?" he said.

"Why did it take this great influx of white people to get the schools better? Why's there more police protection in Bed-Stuy and Harlem now?"

Some Brooklynites agreed with Lee's basic sentiment. "I've been profoundly -- to say the least -- affected by gentrification," said Dinetta Gilmore, 55, who was forced by escalating rents to move from Fort Greene to Bushwick to Bed-Stuy. But "we can't blame white people for all our problems," she said.

Brooklyn elected officials declined to comment.

With Lauren Holter

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