New Jersey's Ramapough Indians are protesting Out of the Furnace, a film that premiered on Friday, as a harmful depiction of their community.
"It eats up and destroys one's self-esteem, particularly for the children. You can't really measure the destruction," Ramapough Lenape leader Dwaine Perry said, according to NJ.com. "It's a massive social humiliation. Not only is it a hate crime, it's an extremely violent crime."
In the movie, Casey Affleck plays an Iraq War veteran who has taken up bare-knuckle boxing as a means to make money to pay off gambling debts. He travels to the Ramapo Mountains of New Jersey, where he gets into trouble with an insular backwoods community rife with drugs and crime. Although this society is not identified as Ramapough in the film, Ramapough critics of the depiction say it's obviously playing on a harmful stereotype of their people.
One character, played by Woody Harrelson, has the last name DeGroat, which is a common family name among the Ramapough — a detail that Perry said "stepped over the boundaries of decency," according to the Hackensack Record.
A spokeswoman for Relativity Media, the film's production company, said that "the filmmakers conducted research and drew upon their own personal life experiences in creating an original screenplay, and the story and the characters are entirely fictional."
Sharing Perry's concern was Mahwah, New Jersey Mayor Bill Laforet. "These residents live in homes no different than our neighbors and are employed by major corporations and businesses," LaForet said. "They are a vital component of our heritage and should be looked upon for the contributions they have made.”