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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jay Pharoah opens up about being held at gunpoint by the LAPD

Illustration for article titled Jay Pharoah opens up about being held at gunpoint by the LAPD
Photo: Leon Bennett/WireImage (Getty Images)

Comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharoah has added his voice to the choir of those supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in America. Pharoah posted a video to Instagram yesterday, in which he discussed his own recent experiences with the LAPD—including having multiple guns drawn on him while he was out exercising, and having his neck held down by an officer’s knee.

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Accompanied by surveillance cam footage of the incident, Pharoah recounts both how he was suddenly surprised by four different police officers who told him he “fit the description” of a Black man they were pursuing, and also how the incident resonated with him strongly a week later, when footage of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and later George Floyd began to circulate. “It wasn’t as long as George Floyd,” Pharoah said, referring to the officer’s knee on his neck, “But I know how that feels.”

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Pharoah goes on to describe his own upbringing , which was largely sheltered from the worst of institutional racism. “I didn’t experience first-hand racism in America until this year,” he states, before issuing a strident reminder that “Black lives always matter. They always matter.” The video (produced by Careyon Production) then ends with a recreation of the incident, with Pharoah down on the ground and a knee placed on his neck. “I literally could have been George Floyd,” he says to the camera. “We, as a country, can’t breathe anymore.”

Looking for ways to advocate for Black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.

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