Brooklyn Heights

VIDEO: Victim of El Chapo leads rally against Sean Penn in Brooklyn Heights

Protesters interrupt talk at St. Ann's Church over Penn's 2016 interview with druglord

April 18, 2018 By Liliana Bernal Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Protesters interrupted Sean Penn at a book event in Brooklyn Heights on Tuesday night, citing his interview with accused drug kingpin El Chapo.

Protesters disrupted an appearance by actor Sean Penn in Brooklyn Heights on Tuesday night, protesting the sometime journalist for interviewing alleged drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman rather than helping authorities apprehend him.

Many people held signs during Penn’s conversation with journalist Jon Lee Anderson at St. Ann’s Church, prompting the actor to interrupt his discussion.

“I think you misunderstood some things but you may not,” he said, and Anderson followed by saying, “We should probably address the Chapo elephant in the room.” 

The “elephant” was Penn’s interview with the notorious (alleged!) drug lord for Rolling Stone in 2016. At the time, some were impressed that Penn had landed an interview with an accused kingpin whose whereabouts were unknown to authorities. But others criticized the actor for giving Guzman a platform to defend himself against the charges against him — charges that will land him in a Brooklyn courtroom later this year.

“Whether it’s Chapo, Hitler or Donald Trump … they are just people,” Penn said, defending his interview.

“They’re not like us … we’re not mass murders,” a woman from the crowd yelled.

“He’s still a man, I don’t apologize for anything,” said Penn. “He’s today’s man that Pablo Escobar [a prior drug cartel leader] once was.”

Antonio Tizapa said he joined the group of protesters because El Chapo’s drug network was allegedly behind a mass kidnapping of 43 students — including his child — in 2014.

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That’s “the crime organization that Sean Penn is glorifying,” said Malú Huacuja del Toro, an internationally known Mexican writer, who also joined the protest.

“People [need] to be aware of what they are coming to see or what they are coming to hear or what they are going to read about these people,” added Tizapa, referring to Penn.

Penn had been on hand at the PEN America World Voices festival not only to talk to Anderson, but to tout his own first novel, “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff,” which he said was born during the election campaign when the actor saw the need to “get away from the news but to keep paying attention to what seems to be important right now and laugh.”

The novel was very poorly received, with the Huffington Post calling it “a garbage novel.”

So Anderson addressed the other elephant in the room — whether Penn would write another book.

“When you get reviews like ‘Sean Penn, shoot your face,’ definitely I’m about to start,” Penn joked.

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