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New Spike Lee movie 'BlacKkKlansman' is based on Colorado Springs case

May 16, 2018 Updated: May 16, 2018 at 5:15 pm
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Actor John David Washington, from left, director Spike Lee, and Adam Driver pose for photographers during a photo call for the film ‘BlacKkKlansman’ at the 71st international film festival, Cannes, on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

"BlacKkKlansman," Spike Lee's forthcoming movie about white supremacy that the director premiered Monday at the Cannes Film Festival, stems from a late-1970s investigation by a black detective with the Colorado Springs Police Department.

Lee's latest film was greeted with a standing ovation at the festival. It's set for commercial release in August - on the first anniversary of the deadly violence at white-supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a counter-protester was run down by a car and killed.

Ron Stallworth is seen in his official Colorado Springs Police Department photo as a patrolman at age 22 in 1975 

Says the Associated Press: "The 1979-set film, loosely based on a true story, is about black police detective Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington, Denzel's son) and a Jewish detective (Adam Driver) who together infiltrated a Ku Klux Klan cell in Colorado. Topher Grace plays former KKK leader David Duke."

Lee on Tuesday went on a tirade at Cannes, criticizing President Donald Trump - whom he didn't name directly, AP says - of not going far enough to denounce the alt-right following the Charlottesville violence.

Said Lee: "It was a defining moment and he could have said to the United States and the world that we're better than that."

Ron Stallworth was the only black on the Colorado Springs Police Department when he joined its cadet program in 1972 at age 19 and he became the department's first black detective in 1975. He is seen in his police identification card. 

After Lee finished production on "BlacKkKlansman," he added an ending with actual footage from Charlottesville and Trump's televised response.

In February, TV station KTSM in El Paso interviewed the real Ron Stallworth, who now lives in Texas. He told how he managed to infiltrate the Klan by posing as a white man on the phone, with a white officer standing in as Stallworth in face-to-face meetings. He even interacted with David Duke.

The Ku Klux Klan membership identification card awarded Ron Stallworth, a black Colorado Springs Police detective, upon his acceptance into the white supremacist hate group in January 1979. 

Lee's movie is based on Stallworth's 2014 book on his Colorado Springs experiences, "Black Klansman."

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