Richard Gere was trending on Twitter earlier today, after a video of him onboard a refugee ship resurfaced. The actor drew ire and admiration for his presence and statement, which was against fining sea captains who rescue drowning refugees who fall off of overcrowded boats.
“I was visiting a friend that summer who asked me if I was aware of this new law in Italy, so I asked him to explain it to me. He said: ‘It’s going to be a criminal offence to help people in distress.’ ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me! This is not possible!’ I mean, in deeply Christian Italy, how could this happen? It’s criminal to help people in need? It was mind-boggling to me.”
Gere went to Italy to see what was happening with the situation, where he was allowed onboard one of these vessels.
“We saw more than a hundred people on board. I felt ashamed that we have so much and are not able to embrace these fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters who were starving, traumatized. If they were told the boat was going back to Libya, they would jump in the water and drown themselves, and I felt it was our responsibility to bring as much light as we could.”
While some Twitter users applauded Gere’s efforts, some were less impressed, with one user going so far as to say that “Richard Gere is a bona-fide people smuggler.”
Regardless of opinion, it’s clear that Gere is unaffected by the conjecture and will continue to do what he believes is right.