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‘Joker’ controversy: NYPD increase presence for screenings

NYPD joins other police departments across the country in preparing for potential violence.

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in “Joker,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in “Joker,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Niko Tavernise, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The New York Police Department will increase its presence outside of “Joker” screenings this week due to a rise in fear over potential violence for the film, the New York Post reports.

NYPD Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison told all the city’s precincts to add police coverage to all theaters in New York City planning to show the film, according to the Post.

The film’s first screening in NYC will be at the Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center during the New York Film Festival.

Unnamed sources told the New York Post that some cops won’t wear their uniforms when they attend screenings at AMC theaters within the city.

An unnamed high-ranking police source told the Post that the coverage will exist “until further notice, so every showing time at each theater will be covered until we are directed to stop.”

Context: The new “Joker” film arrives in theaters this Thursday. Several media reports from the last month hint at potential violence sprouting from the film. In response, the Los Angeles Police Department announced it would increase security. Other, smaller police forces have opted to do the same. Landmark theaters banned cosplay for the film. Regal Cinemas and Warner Bros. all issued statements head of the film’s release, too. The worries began when reports surfaced that members of the U.S Army were concerned about potential threats. “Joker” director Todd Phillips said he doesn’t enjoy the outrage.

Bigger picture: Though there’s no specific threat known for the film, experts are concerned about what the film may lead to. I spoke with a number of experts who said the film’s glorification of a comic book villain could lead to someone interpreting the film in the wrong way, leading to a potential moment of violence. The Joker, after all, is a violent character and has a history of inciting his own violence.