HBO’s Last Week Tonight host John Oliver is urging his viewers, specifically “White America,” to take the streets in protest over what he sees as a “cycle of state violence against black lives.”
While the British comedian didn’t advocate for violent insurrection, he criticized President Joe Biden’s recent calls for peaceful protest as just “another way to prioritize compliance over righteous dissent and to protect property over human lives.”
John Oliver said during Sunday’s episode that white Americans have an obligation to protest in the streets, citing the deaths of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo.
“The fact is, it’s once again been made painfully clear that we — and when I say we, I mean white America — have to stop talking about fundamental change in policing and actually make it happen, because this cycle of state violence against black lives has to be stopped,” he said.
“So put on your shoes, leave the house, march in the streets, and demand a better country—one in which black people are treated with fundamental respect.”
The edited version of Sunday’s episode that HBO made available on YouTube doesn’t contain any of Oliver’s comments about law enforcement.
During the show, Oliver claimed that the “police terrorize communities of color in this country.” He also said “the history of policing in America is inextricably linked with white supremacy.”
“Because the fact is, black people continue to be mowed down by the police that they pay for. And if you’ve watched the news at all this week, you are probably exhausted. Black people in America definitely are — not just from this week, of course, but also from the, you know, everything.”
Law enforcement statistics don’t support the British comedian’s claims.
Police shot and killed 1,021 people in 2020 — with black people accounting for 23 percent of those deaths. That percentage has held steady since at least 2017. White people accounted for 44 percent of police shooting deaths last year, more than any other racial group.