NEW YORK – An angry and emotional Dave Chappelle spoke on the killing of George Floyd in a surprise Netflix special, saying America was being punished for its mistreatment of black men.
“I don’t mean to get heavy but we got to say something,” said Chappelle, who added that America is enduring “the wrath of God” for a string of police assaults on black men.
The special was released Thursday and is streaming free on Netflix’s comedy YouTube channel. It was taken from a show at an outdoor pavilion in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with about 100 attendees on June 6.
Floyd died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck for more than eight minutes even after he pleaded for air and stopped moving, an ordeal caught on video. Chappelle called his special “8:46” in part after the length of time the officer was on top of the handcuffed Floyd.
It is also the time Chappelle was born on Aug. 24, 1973. “I can’t get that number out of my head because it was my time of birth on my birth certificate,” he said.
“When I watched that tape, I understood this man knew he was going to die,” said the comedian. “I can't tell you, as a man, watching another man, go through something like that, what it makes you feel like.”
Chappelle added that he has been quiet until now for a reason. “Answer me: Do you want to see a celebrity right now?” he asked. “No, this is the streets talking for themselves. They don’t need me right now.”
Chappelle also explored the violent deaths of such black men as Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Philando Castile. “One after the other,” the comedian said. He also slammed the National Rifle Association and celebrated Kobe Bryant.
He ended by noting that his great-grandfather — once a slave — was part of an African American delegation that was asked to come to the White House following a lynching during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson.
“These things are not old. This is not a long time ago. It's today,” Chappelle said. “These streets will speak for themselves whether I am alive or dead. I trust you guys.”