John Oliver took a thorough and important look on Last Week Tonight at the events of the last week and the goal that the Black Lives Matter protests appear to be coalescing around: defunding police departments.
“The police have not just been incidentally tainted by racism,” Oliver began. “For much of U.S. history, law enforcement meant enforcing laws that were explicitly designed to subjugate black people. … All week long, protesters have continued to fill the streets in all 50 states in the wake of the horrific murder of George Floyd by the police. And in response to those protests, which have been a stirring pushback against institutional racism and brutality, it’s been frankly sickening to see them met with this.”
Oliver then showed clips of police brutality seen around the nation this week, moving him to the topic of the president.
“As for the president himself, he initially hid from the protesters in a bunker, later claiming he wasn’t hiding, he was just ‘inspecting’ it. Then, his attorney general had police gas protesters outside the White House so that Trump could have an inexplicable photo op at a nearby church while holding up a Bible like it’s the ticket for his sandwich order that was just called. He also, in announcing jobs numbers on Friday, invoked George Floyd’s name, saying, ‘This is a great day for him,’ which is utterly f**king disgusting.”
Finally, Oliver tackled defunding police departments. This does not mean, as Tucker Carlson asserted, that all police would be eliminated.
Said Oliver: “It means moving away from a narrow conception of public safety that relies on policing and punishment and investing in a community’s actual safety — things like stable housing, mental health services and community organizations. The concept is that the role of the police can then significantly shrink because they are not responding to the homeless or to mental health calls or arresting children in schools or really any other situation where they best solution is not someone showing up with a gun — that’s the idea of defunding the police.”
Oliver ended the show emotionally, sharing a powerful video of Kimberly Jones, co-author of I’m Not Dying with You Tonight, explaining systemic racism.
Oliver also explained: “This clearly isn’t about individual officers. It’s about a structure built on systemic racism that this country created intentionally and now needs to dismantle intentionally and replace with one that takes into account the needs of the people it actually serves…Black communities have had to be perpetual activists while also routinely being disenfranchised and it is long past time for the rest of us to join and make sure their voices are heard and acted upon.”
Watch the full segment: