On HBO’s Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver used the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, to address the increased militarization of America’s police departments, mocking the wearing of camouflaged uniforms in urban environments and purchases of armored vehicles better suited to war zones.
Starting with the tone-deaf response from the Ferguson police chief and mayor following the shooting, Oliver pointed out the disparity between reality in the racially divided town and city official’s assertion that there is no racial issues in their community.
“Here’s the thing the mayor doesn’t understand, “Oliver explained, “As a general rule, no one should ever be allowed to say ‘There is no history of racial tension here.’ Because that sentence has never been true anywhere on Earth.”
Relaying several stories about past police abuses against black citizens in St. Louis County, Oliver got into the increased militarization of the police, pointing out that police departments have been outfitted with over $4.3 billion in military hardware since 1996.
“This has allowed small towns like Keene, New Hampshire to apply for a Bearcat, a military-grade armored personnel truck, which they needed because, as their application argued: ‘The terrorism threat is far-reaching and often unforeseen,'” Oliver explained. “And cited as a possible target, their annual pumpkin festival.”
“Good luck out-maneuvering that, teenagers with baseball bats.”
Oliver pointed to pictures of Ferguson police wearing “f*cking camo” on the streets of Ferguson this past week as they dealt with protestors.
“They are northwest of St. Louis, not northwest of the Amazon,” Oliver said. “If they want to blend in with their surroundings, they should be dressed as a dollar store.”
Oliver moved on to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, comparing his patronizing declaration of curfew in Ferguson to the tone of a “pissed-off vice principal trying to restore order at assembly.”
“If even the governor can’t distinguish between the good and the bad elements in the community, and has decided to punish everyone equally, then that should go both ways,” Oliver stated. “I know the police love their ridiculous and unnecessary military equipment, so here’s another patronizing test: let’s take it all away from them and if they can make through a whole month without killing a single unarmed black man, then –and only then — they can get their f*cking toys back.”
Watch the video below from HBO: