Saturday Night Live alum Jay Pharoah, 32, has spoken out about a harrowing encounter he had with Los Angeles police officers that put him in a similar incident to George Floyd. The peaceful rallies following the police-custody death of the unarmed Black man in Minneapolis on May 25 have become a major civil uprising, and celebs are speaking out about their experiences with the cops. In a four-minute video posted to Instagram on June 12, Jay details an incident that occurred in Los Angeles a few months ago. While he was out exercising, a police officer ordered him to get on the ground.
“As I’m walking across the street, Corbin and Ventura, I see an officer to the left of me. I’m not thinking anything of it, because I’m a law-abiding citizen,” Jay narrates over CCTV footage of the incident. “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. So I’m looking past where he’s looking. I’m looking at him, and I’m looking past me ’cause I’m like, ‘whoever they’re about to get, it’s just about to be terrible.’ No, he was coming to get me.”
Just seconds later, surveillance footage shows the comedian lying on a sidewalk surrounded by four cops. “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. I said, ‘why are you doing this? What’s wrong?’ They said, ‘you fit the description of a black man in this area with grey sweatpants on and a grey shirt.’ I told them, ‘Google right now Jay Pharoah, you will see you made a big mistake.'” The cops then told Jay that they indeed had the wrong man, and removed the handcuffs.
“I had never been in cuffs before up until that point,” Jay said, before explaining that it was the first time he had experienced “first-hand racism in America.” The funnyman said he “could have easily been an Ahmaud Arbery or George Floyd” and finished the video with a message supporting the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the nation. “Be in the know. I’m Jay Pharoah, and I’m a black man in America and my life matters. Black lives always matter. You always matter.”
The unsettling video of George’s death, which showed fired police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, truly rocked the nation. Despite saying “I can’t breathe,” the former cop continued to kneel on his neck while three other officers — Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Keung — stood by. All were fired, subsequently arrested and charged.