Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharoahis speaking out about police brutality. In a four-minute video posted to Instagram, the 32-year-old says he was out exercising in L.A. recently when a police officer approached him. On Friday, he appeared on ABC's Good Morning America discussing his experience.
He began: "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."
Pharoah said: "As I’m walking across the street, 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."
The surveillance footage shows him lying on a sidewalk, surrounded by four officers with guns drawn. He released the footage, he told Good Morning America, because he wanted people to be aware of what’s happening on the ground in the U.S. It emerged following Floyd’s May 25th death at the hands of police in Minneapolis, as many in the U.S. grapple with how to handle policing policies and grapple with larger issues of discrimination and injustice.
He said that police told him he "fit the description of a black man in this area with gray sweatpants on and a gray shirt. I told them if you look, Google right now Jay Pharoah, you will see that you made a big mistake.”
This was, he said, the first time he’d ever encountered anything like this: "I'm from the 'burbs, you know? Luckily my parents, what they did was they tried to shelter me and my sister for years. So we never saw that. I didn't experience first-hand racism in America until this year.”
He encouraged viewers to take it in, and learn more: "Black lives always matter. My life matters. I'm still here to tell my story, but I could have easily 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. Educate yourselves on the laws, understand what the cops are saying to you, so if they try to flip anything on you, on young black men, on black men in general, we have the knowledge and we have the power to overthrow that, because we're well-rounded. We know what's going on. Be in the know."