Trevor Noah: ‘If the police weren’t so quick to draw any weapon then maybe people wouldn’t die’

Adrian Horton
·5 min read

Trevor Noah

Three weeks into the trial of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd last May, widespread protests broke out again in the city of Minneapolis after police shot and killed another unarmed black man. On Sunday, an officer in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop after the officer mistook her gun for her Taser, according to police.

“You have got to be fucking kidding me,” said Trevor Noah on Monday evening. “A man was killed at a traffic stop because the police officer mixed up their gun and their Taser? Is that even supposed to be a legitimate excuse? Like we’re supposed to watch that and be like, ‘Ah, OK, one time I used sugar instead of salt so I can relate.’

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“I’m not saying that tragic mistakes will never happen,” the Daily Show host continued, “but what I am saying is that maybe if the police weren’t so quick to draw any weapon then maybe people wouldn’t die because of a mix-up from Officer Urkel over here.”

It’s also not the only example of anti-black police brutality once again making headlines this week. Noah also pointed to body-cam footage of white officers from Windsor, Virginia, harassing a black army lieutenant in uniform and pepper-spraying him at a traffic stop for their failure to see his temporary plates, which were visible in the officers’ own body-cam footage.

The lieutenant, Caron Nazario, who is suing the officers for civil rights violations in federal court, attempted to de-escalate the situation by pulling over at a well-lit gas station, hanging his hands out the window, and relaying clearly that he was frightened. One of the officers responded: “You should be scared!”

Related: Colbert on Matt Gaetz: the allegations are ‘almost too Florida, even for him’

“He knew to get to a gas station so that he would have decent lighting for the encounter,” Noah repeated. “Just think about that for a moment: police brutality has forced everyday black Americans to become lighting experts.

“Please don’t forget: this is how cops treated one of the troops, while he was wearing his uniform,” Noah concluded. “Not a hoodie, not baggy pants, so what’s the excuse this time, huh? If a black man in military uniform can’t get humane treatment from the police, then what chance does every other black person in America have?

“At this point, black people should just start singing the Star-Spangled Banner when they get pulled over, and then maybe, just maybe, the cops will be like, ‘Well, I don’t want to pepper-spray the anthem, what do I do?’”

Stephen Colbert

On the Late Show, Stephen Colbert also addressed the killing of Wright after an officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, mistook her handgun for her Taser. “It’s dangerous when a policeman can’t tell if you’re holding a gun. It’s insane when they can’t tell if they’re holding a gun,” Colbert said.

“Now you might think, ‘Hey, just don’t try to flee and nothing bad will happen to you,’ and you would think wrong,” he added, shifting to Nazario’s harassment in Windsor, Virginia. last December after he was pulled over for not having proper license plates.

His temporary plates were still visible in the body-cam footage, however, “so maybe instead of giving police departments enough funding for tanks, they should get enough funding for reading glasses”, Colbert joked.

Later in his monologue, Colbert checked in on so-called “Gaetz-Gaete”, the sprawling sex scandal that has engulfed the Florida congressman and Trump ally Matt Gaetz. He is under federal investigation for sex trafficking and an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl; last week, the Daily Beast revealed that Gaetz allegedly paid for sexual services via the app Venmo, with said transactions visible in his public feed.

“You’re doing crimes on an app? How dumb are these guys?” Colbert said. “It’s like organizing a hit on Words with Friends.”

Seth Meyers

And on Late Night, Seth Meyers also recapped the Gaetz saga. The Florida congressman “has been on the vanguard of Trumpism”, Meyers explained. “He’s been one of the former president’s most loyal defenders and one of the strongest advocates of turning the GOP into a megaphone for Trumpism.”

Yet even the former president has shied away from coming to Gaetz’s defense amid the sex trafficking investigation, as have almost all congressional Republicans. “It’s so funny that Republicans are suddenly telling reporters how much they hate Matt Gaetz. They sound like a bunch of mean high schoolers,” Meyers said. “You can just picture Ted Cruz and Kevin McCarthy gossiping at their lockers in the congressional hallway.”

Meyers also mocked the Florida man-ness of two Gaetz associates implicated in the investigation. Joel Greenberg, part of the Venmo transaction debacle, is the former Seminole county tax collector, “which is like a job out of small-town corruption Mad Libs”, Meyers joked.

And then there’s Jason Pirozzolo, a marijuana entrepreneur and hand surgeon who allegedly arranged a trip to the Bahamas with Gaetz under investigation for sex trafficking. “The only way that could be a more perfectly Floridian occupation is if he added ‘owner and operator of fan boat traveling funeral parlor for kids’,” said Meyers.