The special, more of a social commentary than a traditional comedy set, was released Thursday in the wake of over two weeks of protests across the US and around the world following the choking death of an unarmed and subdued African American at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25.
Comedian Dave Chappelle has dropped a new special dedicated to the death of George Floyd, the protests, and race relations in the US, with the 27 minute monologue racking up nearly 12 million views less than two days its release on Netflix’s YouTube account.
The special, entitled ‘8:46’, i.e. the amount of time that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck before killing him, saw Chappelle connecting the dots between his own life and experiences as a black man in America, and calling out the police for systemic racism and violence against African American males.
Chappelle, well-known for his refusal to accept attempts to censor him into politically correct speech, also attacked the media over their obsession with celebrities.
“When I watched that tape, I understood this man knew he was gonna die,” Chappelle said, referring to the infamous Floyd video that sparked nationwide protests. “People watched it. People filmed it. And for some reason that I still don’t understand, all these f***ing police had their hands in their pockets. Who are you talking to? What are you signifying? That you can kneel on a man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds and feel like you wouldn’t get the wrath of God? That’s what is happening right now. It’s not for a single cop, it’s for all of it,” Chappelle said of the demonstrations.
Later, at the end of his monologue, the comedian suggested that just talking about Floyd’s death and the social issues it brings up may be holding America back from a catastrophic outburst of widespread violence.
“These n****s say ‘why isn’t David Chappelle saying anything’? Because David Chappelle understands what the f*** he is seeing, and these streets will speak for themselves whether I am alive or dead. I trust you guys, I love you guys, we’ll keep this space open, this is the last stronghold for civil discourse. After this s*** it’s just rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat,” he warned, mimicking the sound of gunfire.
REUTERS / Lindsey Wasson
A protester with a rainbow umbrella picks up a gas canister as law enforcement deploys chemical agents and blast balls during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, near the Seattle Police department’s East Precinct in Seattle, Washington, U.S. June 8, 2020.
White on Black and Black on White Killings
Along with Floyd, Chappelle recalled the deaths of other unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers in recent years, including Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, and John Crawford, a resident of Chappelle’s Ohio community killed by a white police officer just a day after the comedian himself ran into the officer in 2014.
He also recalled the story of Chris Dorner, a mentally ill black LAPD officer that went on a murder spree against police and their families in 2013. In 2016, Chappelle said, Micah Xavier Johnson, another African American, fired on and killed five white police officers in Dallas, Texas. “The guy that killed those cops was, like Chris Dorner, from the…military,” the comedian pointed out. “Right after he did it, another four cops were shot dead in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by a black man that served in our military. Why would black men from the military do that? Because they believed, just like they did when they joined the f***ing military, that they are fighting acts of terror.”
Media Obsession With Celebrities
Attacking the media, Chappelle slammed CNN’s Don Lemon over his suggestion following Floyd’s death that celebrities have been “sitting in your mansions and doing nothing.”
“I’m watching Don Lemon, that hotbed of reality. He says, ‘where are all these celebrities? Why aren’t you all talking?’”
“Do we want to see a celebrity right now?” Chappelle asked. “Do we give a f*** what Ja Rule thinks?” he added, in a throwback to his 2003 special ‘For What It’s Worth’, in which he joked about how, in 2001, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an MTV host famously asked rapper Ja Rule about his thoughts on the act of terrorism.
“This is the streets talking for themselves, they don’t need me right now. I kept my mouth shut. And I’ll keep my mouth shut. Don’t think my silence is complicit. Why would anyone care what their favourite comedian thinks after they saw a police officer kneel on a man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds? I can’t get that number out of my head,” he stressed.
Chappelle went on to excoriate conservative commentator Candace Owens for comments in which she pointed out that Floyd had a criminal record, and ‘wasn’t the martyr’ he’s being made off to be by Black Lives Matter and other protesters.
“We didn’t choose him, you did,” Chappelle retorted. “They killed him, and that wasn’t right, so he’s the guy. We’re not desperate for heroes in the Black community. Anyone that survives this nightmare is my goddamn hero.”
REUTERS / Pool / David J. Phillip
The casket of George Floyd is placed in the chapel during a funeral service for Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church, in Houston, Texas, U.S., June 9, 2020.
The special was recorded near Chappelle’s home in Yellow Springs, Ohio on June 6, and filmed in the wake of weeks of protests, some of them violent, following the May 25 killing of 46-year-old Floyd. Protests and demonstrations began in Minneapolis on May 26, with governors of dozens of states calling in the National Guard and beefing up law enforcement in the days since to deal with potential violence. To date, over 11,000 people have been arrested, and 22 more killed, mostly by gunshot wounds.