Comedian Jay Pharoah has addressed the ongoing civil rights protests calling for widespread police reform in a sobering post on Instagram. In the video, he spoke about a recent encounter with the LAPD near his home in Ventura, California. The incident took place in February, roughly one week before the death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed will jogging near his home in Brunswick, Georgia.
"I was actually on Ventura, I was exercising, as I'm walking across the street… I see an officer to the left of me," Pharoah said. "I'm not thinking anything of it because I'm a law-abiding citizen. I see him coming with guns blazing, I see him say, 'Get on the ground, put your hands up like you're an airplane.' As he's looking at me I'm thinking that he's making a mistake."
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The comedian then recalled telling them to "Google right now Jay Pharoah, you will see that you made a big mistake," as one officer pinned him to the ground, put a knee on his neck and handcuffed him. It took about a minute before the officers confirmed that he wasn't the person they were looking for. "I could have easily been an Ahmaud Arbery or a George Floyd," he added. At the end of the post, Pharoah recreated the incident, which Variety noted is largely been confirmed by security footage of the area. before delivering his closing remarks. "Black lives always matter. We as a country can't breathe anymore. We are tired, we are sick, and we are tired of it. I can't breathe."
Along with Arbery's killing, the SNL alum also mentions Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was killed on May 25 when arresting officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on the back of his neck for almost nine minutes. Floyd's death has sparked global protests, which are centered in the U.S., calling for an end to police brutality. So far, several cities have taken measures or plan to do so, which would divert funding from police departments into more community reinvestment.
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Floyd was killed, the city council unanimously voted on Friday to replace the city's police department with a community-led public safety system. Nine members of the city council announced Sunday they supported replacing the police department with a new way to protect the community, which will be developed in the year-long project.