Last week, actors Josh Brolin and Jeffrey Wright, who had just finished filming a movie in Shreveport, Louisiana, were arrested outside a Shreveport bar for allegedly interfering with the arrest of one of the film’s crew members. A fight had taken place outside the bar, although Brolin and Wright were not involved. The Shreveport police have confirmed that a Taser was used on both men, and video captured on a cell phone indicates that racial slurs were used against Wright. Although initial reports indicated that the two actors would not be charged with any crime due to the controversial methods used in arresting them, they are scheduled to be arraigned in December.

Louisiana has recently enacted economic incentive programs to lure Hollywood productions to the area. These laws are specifically designed to convince producers that Louisiana is a financially viable, hospitable place to locate large film and television productions. And the incentives programs are working – between 2005 and 2007, film and television productions valued at over $340 million were shot or green-lighted in Shreveport, which is more than 30 times the business the city attracted in 2002.

However, part of being an attractive location to outside producers is being a socially, as well as legally, welcoming environment, and this requires the cooperation of all city and state agencies – including the police. Perhaps after the media hubub surrounding the arrests of Brolin and Wright, the Shreveport police will learn to tone down their tactics, both in regard to outside film industry visitors and local residents. Tasering an arrestee while calling him the n-word wouldn’t be considered appropriate behavior no matter where it occurred.

Laura Keane

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