FBI, DHS watching out for threats related to opening of ‘Joker’ film

Police respond to a shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012, during the opening of the film "The Dark Knight Rises." File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI

Oct. 4 (UPI) — Federal authorities have issued a warning to local law enforcement agencies nationwide, encouraging them to pay attention to threatening posts across social media related to this weekend’s opening of the Batman-related film “Joker.”

The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as the sadistic comic book villain, and concerns authorities it might inspire violence — much in the way the 2012 Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” did before a shooting at a Denver-area cinema.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued the bulletin, but said they don’t know of any specific or credible threats. Although the FBI said it has looked into potentially threatening posts related to the film since May.

“The FBI, DHS and (National Counterterrorism Center) remain concerned that the volume of threatening language may lead to lone offender violence,” it said.

The film digs into the psyche of the fictional Joker and has stirred real-world debate. The 2012 attack killed a dozen movie-goers in Aurora, Colo. That cinema will not be showing “Joker.”

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The U.S. Army also has advised soldiers at Fort Sill in Oklahoma about potential threats, and Los Angeles police said they will post “high visibility” security at a number of theaters. The Landmark Theatres chain banned costumes at showings of Joker, saying “no masks, painted faces or costumes will be permitted in our theaters.” AMC Theaters has also barred masks.

The film’s distributor, Warner Bros., issued a disclaimer saying the film is not an endorsement of violence.

“Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind,” the studio said. “It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”

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