The last week was a historic one in America, filled with tragedy and rage. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked protests across the nation, leading to clashes with police that have in many cities turned violent. No one’s in a laughing mood, certainly not Jimmy Kimmel. On Friday’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the late night host joined a host of other celebrities, from Charles Barkley to Lil Wayne to Taylor Swift, using his platform not to distract viewers from what’s really happening but to focus on it directly.
Kimmel, who’s no stranger to making progressive pleas, spoke about how the nation tends to react to acts of police brutality in a circular manner:
Unfortunately, this is the loop we get stuck in: It goes from ‘It isn’t right to kill an unarmed man’ to ‘Well, it also isn’t right to loot and set fires and attack the police,’ to ‘But the police are attacking us, over and over, and nothing changes’ to ‘Well, that needs to be settled by the law’ to ‘But an officer of the law just killed another man,’ and so on.
The protests in response to Floyd’s death have been going on all week, starting in the South Side of Minneapolis and spreading to places like New York City, Atlanta, and elsewhere. Late Wednesday night, as riots engulfed Minneapolis, President Donald J. Trump took to Twitter, calling the protesters “thugs” and threatening that ”when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
“Our disgusting excuse for a president, Mr. Tough Guy, Donny Bonespurs, decides I know what I’ll do: I’ll makes this worse,” Kimme said. “Our president is ordering the military to shoot Americans, specifically black Americans.” He noted that Trump tried to walk it back, claiming he wasn’t threatening lives, but Kimmel wasn’t having it. “That sad thing about how much he lies is he’s not even good at it.”
Kimmel then addressed those who make up the bulk of Trump’s base:
I especially want to pose this question to older people who’ve seen this before in this country, who’ve lived this nightmare of race riots already in the ‘60s and ‘70s, ‘80s, now: Is this who you want leading us, a president who clearly and intentionally inflames violence in the middle of a riot to show how tough he is? A commander in chief who threatens to put members of our military, our National Guardsmen and -women, in the position of having to shoot a fellow American on sight? I don’t care what you are — right, left or Republican, Democrat, I can’t imagine that there are many of us who want that. Enough is enough, we’ve got to vote this guy out already.
Kimmel ended his monologue by giving his platform to someone else. He played, in its entirety, a viral video by the Nashville actor Tyler Merritt, in which he gives a monologue entitled “Before You Call the Cops.” In it, Merritt, in a close-up against a black background, tells viewers all about him: that he’s a Christian who teaches Sunday school, that he’s done goat yoga, that he knows N.W.A.’s album Straight Outta Compton as well as he knows the musical Oklahoma!, that he hates bananas. “Does any of this really matter?” Merritt then asks. “No. I just wanted you to get to know me better, before you call the cops.”
You can watch Kimmel’s monologue in the video above.