Former Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharoah shared footage on Saturday of a recent incident in which he was stopped by police on the streets of Los Angeles. A week prior to the release of the Ahmaud Arbery footage, Pharaoh said he was detained by police, forced to the ground, and pinned by an officer’s knee.
“I was exercising,” said Pharoah in a video posted to Instagram. “As I’m walking across the street, I see an officer to the left of me. I’m not thinking anything of it because I’m a law-abiding citizen.”
Pharoah said he was also wearing noise-canceling headphones, so it came to him as a shock that an officer was approaching him “guns blazing” telling him to get on the ground and spread his arms like an airplane.
“As he’s looking at me I’m thinking he’s making a mistake so I’m looking past where he’s looking. … No he’s coming to get me. Four officers got their guns blazing they tell me to get on the ground, spread my arms out, they put me in cuffs. The officer took his knee, put it on my neck. It wasn’t as long as George Floyd, but I know how that feels.”
When Pharoah asked why they had cuffed him, officers told him he fit the description of a suspect they were looking for. Pharoah told them to Google his name and he was released a short time later.
Added Pharoah: “I could easily have been an Ahmaud Arbery or a George Floyd. And I’m not and I can tell my story so I will tell you all. This is what you need to do. Educate yourselves. Educate yourselves on the laws. … Be in the know. I’m Jay Pharoah and I’m a black man in America and my life matters. Black lives always matter. They always matter.”