Florida

Going to see ‘Joker’? Expect to see an increased law enforcement presence in South Florida

Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from “Joker.”
Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from “Joker.” AP

South Florida law enforcement agencies will have an increased presence at some theaters during this weekend’s opening of “Joker.”

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department announced Friday that additional personnel will be stationed at movie theaters in the area “to maintain a safe and orderly environment.” A Miami-Dade Police Department spokesperson confirmed it will have extra manpower “in general areas of the county” as well.

This comes on the heels of an internal memo from the FBI and the U.S. Army that warned of a mass shooting at an unknown theater during the film’s opening weekend. The memo was shared online and has since circulated on social media.

Looming over the heads of law enforcement and moviegoers alike is the 2012 shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, where a gunman killed 12 people during a screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Both South Florida police agencies stressed that their increased presence is not a response to a credible threat.

“Our department is simply taking precautionary measures to assure our neighbors and visitors have a safe and enjoyable weekend,” Fort Lauderdale police said in a statement.

“Joker,” which stars Joaquin Phoenix as Batman’s arch nemesis and is directed by Todd Phillips, has been engulfed in controversy since its triumphant debut at the Venice Film Festival. Critics claim Phillips’ portrayal of the Joker’s origin story glamorizes the protagonist’s madness and could be interpreted as a rallying cry for incels.

Phillips, however, has defended his directorial choices, calling the Joker “a fictional character in a fictional world that’s been around for 80 years.”

Even with the increased police presence across the country and contentious messaging, the film has already broken box office records.

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering breaking and trending news for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of both Columbia University and Morehouse College.
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