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Spike Lee criticizes New York City gentrification

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 8:55 am

NEW YORK — Film director Spike Lee has engaged in a brief and lively profanity-laced debate about gentrification of largely black New York City neighborhoods.

Lee grew up in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. He made his comments during a Black History Month speech at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

He says gentrification had little regard for people who "have a culture that's been laid down for generations."

While gentrification brought improvements to neighborhoods such as Fort Greene, he demanded to know, "Why did it take this great influx of white people" to make things better?

Some audience members said they understand why some of their neighbors couldn't pass up high offers for their homes.

Lee lives on Manhattan's Upper East Side and recently listed his town house for $32 million.