As Ferguson, Missouri, reeled from protests and police action tied to the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was killed by a white police officer, British comedian John Oliver turned his rapier wit to the town’s racially oblivious authorities.
Oliver starts the segment on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, lambasting the police’s handling of the situation, including St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar’s answer to a question about how many times Brown had been shot: “It was more than just a couple but I don’t think it was many more than that,” Belmar said. A preliminary autopsy report revealed Brown was shot at least six times, including twice to the head.
Also skewered were comments from Ferguson’s mayor, who said there have never been such “frustration and tension between the races” in his town and that the community always has gotten along very well. (The claim, cause for incredulity all on its own, seemed even less plausible next to statistics showing that blacks are targeted in 86% of police stops, 92% of police searches, and nearly 93% of arrests in Ferguson, despite making up only 63% of the town’s population.)
Oliver also criticized the governor’s decision to implement a local curfew, likening the act to that of a school vice principal trying to maintain order at an assembly:
“That is profoundly patronizing… If even the governor can’t distinguish between the good and the bad elements of the community, and decided to punish everyone equally, then that should go both ways… Let’s take [the guns] away from [the police] and, if they can make it through a whole month without killing a single unarmed black man, then…can they get their [bleeped] toys back.”