Dave Chappelle, in addition to being a sterling comedian, is also an incredibly sharp social commentator. That shouldn't be surprising, since one skill is necessary for the other. His political mind was on display when he visited a Yellow Springs, OH — his own (predominantly white) hometown — council meeting to talk about a certain New Year's Eve occurrence of police aggression towards two Black men, Rolling Stone reports.
The incident in question was when local law enforcement tased the two Black individuals during a public ball drop. Chappelle was at the ball-drop event with his children, but had apparently left before the tasing went down. His speech at the town council meeting nailed why the incident was what he called "a huge gaffe" — and why politics need to be inherently local. Chappelle was quick to praise local law enforcement for helping him out in the past, but he criticized the town's police for not having an ongoing relationship with their residents.
"We’re being policed by what feels like an alien force,” he said. He called on the town to use the incident to launch itself into being “a leader in progressive law enforcement.”
One of the problems, he pointed out, is that rather than developing community relationships, towns often hire police from a national applicant pool; this can lead to a police force that's out of touch with local residents and their goals. Plus, outfitting police with paramilitary gear may make them ready for a theoretical standoff with a theoretical terrorist, but it doesn't help them talk down a guy who's had too much to drink and just needs a night to sleep things off in a holding cell.
We need to maintain connection, most of all within our communities. Especially now — as forces within the government look to set up that government as an entity opposed to its citizens rather than of its citizens.
"I would beseech the council to look deeply and a little hard because this is a golden opportunity...in this Trump era, this is an opportunity to show everybody that local politics reigns supreme," Chappelle added. "We can make our corner of the world outstanding."
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