Comedian Jay Pharaoh has recalled a recent incident where an LA police officer kneeled on his neck.
The former SNL star shared his experience in a new Instagram video about being Black in America.
“Coincidentally when the footage dropped of Ahmaud Arbery, a week prior to that I was actually on Ventura, I was exercising,” he began. “As I’m walking across the street, I see an officer to the left of me. I’m not thinking anything of it cos I’m a law-abiding citizen. And also keep in mind I’ve got my Bose headphones on – noise cancelling – so I’m in my zone right now. I look to my left, the officer – I see him coming with guns blazing. I see him say, ‘Get on the ground. Put your hands up like you’re an airplane’.”
Pharaoh said he thought the officer must be talking to someone behind him, but soon realised he wasn’t. “No, he was coming to get me,” he said. “Four officers got their guns blazing, they tell me to get on the ground and spread my arms out. They put me in cuffs. The officer took his knee and put it on my neck – it wasn’t as long as George Floyd, but I know how that feels.”
When the comedian asked the officers why they were detaining him, they told him he 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 Pharaoh, you will see that you made a big mistake’,” he continued. “A minute later, after I was detained in cuffs, they come back and say, ‘We’re sorry, we just got a call in, it’s not you’. I said, ‘Get these offing cuffs off of me’. I had never been in cuffs before.”
The star concluded the video by saying: “Black lives always matter. My life matters. I’m still here to tell my story, but 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 y’all this is what you need to do: educate yourselves on the laws, understand what the cops are saying to you so if they try and flip anything on you, on our young Black men – our Black men in general – we have the knowledge and the power to overthrow that because we’re well-rounded, we know what’s going on. Be in the know.”
George Floyd’s family paid tribute to the late 49-year-old at his funeral earlier this week (June 10). He died in Minneapolis on May 25 when a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. “As long as I’m breathing, justice will be served,” his niece Brooke Williams said. His brother Rodney added: “Everybody is going to remember him around the world. He is going to change the world.”