John Oliver devoted a segment of Last Week Tonight on Sunday to the issue of police brutality, saying that at this point, it’s abundantly clear that the problems with U.S. police goes far beyond “a few bad apples.”
“As you know, the police have been at the center of a great deal of controversy lately, it’s been impossible to escape,” Oliver said. “From the Black Lives Matter movement to Colin Kaepernick’s protests to Mary J. Blige awkwardly singing a Springsteen song at Hillary Clinton.”
“Now, the trust between police and the communities they serve is clearly a cornerstone of civilized society. Unfortunately that trust has been rocked following a series of controversial police shootings, from Alton Sterling to Philando Castile to Tamir Rice to so many others that I literally cannot mention them all,” he continued.
“Cumulatively, these deaths, taken with countless smaller incidents of police misconduct, have led to a common refrain,” Oliver said before playing a clip of people asking again and again for the police to be “held accountable” for the deaths of unarmed civilians.
Oliver went on to say that “no reasonable person” believes that police work is easy, but said that far, far too many police violence apologists rely on the argument that “a few bad apples” are to blame.
“That is a really weirdly blasé attitude, because bad apples can erode trust fast,” he said. “Snow White wasn’t afraid of apples before she bit into that really bad one. But I’ll tell you, the next time an old lady comes at her with a piece of fruit, Snow is going to get the f*ck out of there.”
That argument, he said, “has some real problems.” Many “good apples,” he said, are forced to enforce bad laws and policies that systematically persecute non-whites. Furthermore, police aren’t being forthcoming with accurate statistics.
“Even some of the most basic questions are hard to answer,” he said, as FBI Director James Comey pointed out when he said before Congress that “We can’t have an open discussion because we don’t have the data.”
Oliver said that some schools are teaching students how to interact with police in order to minimize the chance of being shot, which he called “f*cking depressing,” but noted that this is the only class students take where they don’t wonder when they’ll get to use these lessons in real life.
The “bad apples” argument, he said, does a disservice to the issue and to the people who police are sworn to protect.
“The phrase isn’t ‘It’s just a few bad apples, don’t worry about it.’ The phrase is, ‘A few bad apples spoil the barrel.’ And we currently have a system which is set up to ignore bad apples, destroy bad apples’ records, persecute good apples for speaking up and shuffle dangerous, emotionally unstable apples around to the point that children have to attend f*cking apple classes! You cannot look at our current situation and claim that anybody likes them apples.”
Watch the video, embedded below: