Late Night Lately: Police, Protesting and a Look Toward the Future

8:00 AM 6/13/2020

by THR Staff

The Hollywood Reporter's Late Night Lately rounds up the best sketches and guests with a look at what's to come next week.

Comedy Central; Tristan Fewings/Getty Images; HBO

The Hollywood Reporter's Late Night Lately is a one-stop shop for all of the most memorable moments of late night TV, coming to you each Saturday morning to ease you into your weekend.

So pour your coffee, set your DVR for the week and sit back. Below are a few of the week's best, funniest and strangest late night moments that you can't afford to miss.

This week: Trevor Noah examined police brutality being met with more police brutality, before speaking to Former Vice President Joe Biden about ways to de-escalate police forces. Spike Lee joined Jimmy Fallon to discuss his new film, Da 5 Bloods, and his experiences protesting. John Oliver took a wider look at police history in the U.S. and possibilities for change. 

— Compiled by Jennifer Konerman 

  • Trevor Noah: "Law Enforcement Officers Have Met the Calls to End Police Brutality With Even More Police Brutality"

    Comedy Central

    Trevor Noah took time during Monday's Daily Show to talk about instances of police violence against protesters amid the worldwide demonstrations. Noah began the segment by sharing that many people have compared the recent protests to the civil rights movement. "Much like the 1960s, law enforcement officers have met the calls to end police brutality with even more police brutality," Noah said.

    News coverage followed of cops across the country using military-style tactics to fight off protesters. Noah explained that the cops are using heavy-duty equipment intended to fight off terrorists on protesters. While some people have defended cops for going after only violent protesters, Noah noted that "the police's story never matches the actual footage."

    Over the past week, a number of people have uploaded videos of cops "attacking protesters with no provocation whatsoever."

    "I don't care who you are. Those images have to be upsetting to watch. Because these images are the antitheses of what America is supposed to stand for," said Noah. "This is supposed to be the country where you have the freedom to say whatever you want."

    Noah next addressed an incident in Buffalo, New York, that went viral. After two cops pushed a 75-year-old man, he fell down and blood was seen by his head on the ground. Fifty-seven other officers then walked past the injured man.

    "I don't care how many times I see that video. I will never get used to it," said the host. "It's bad enough that these cops push an old man who's walking over to them, but the fact that they walk over him, they walk past him while he's bleeding out on the sidewalk. Like who are you protecting and serving if not that old man?"

    The host argued that police officers seem to have the same sense of loyalty as gang members. "Above all, you are loyal to your crew," he said. "That is a culture that is within every police department, and that's the heart of this issue. If good police are willing to look the other way or even join in when the bad police abuse their powers, you can make new rules and regulations all you want. But it won't matter."

    "America's not going to be able to fix this problem until we have police whose first priority is protecting and serving the people instead of protecting and serving themselves," Noah concluded.

  • Spike Lee Reflects on Police Brutality Since 'Do the Right Thing'

    NBC

    "My brother, the world has changed," Spike Lee started his conversation with Jimmy Fallon on Monday's Tonight Show.

    The Da 5 Bloods filmmaker was referring to the fact that he and the late-night host were speaking over video chat rather than at 30 Rock studios, but he could have just as easily been discussing the protests over racist police brutality and systemic racism that have swept the U.S. in the past few weeks — which is where the conversation turned.

    Last Monday the filmmaker released a short film "Will History Stop Repeating Itself?," which combined footage of his film Do the Right Thing alongside images of policy brutality, and on Monday, Fallon played the entire film during his show. Lee sounded a note of hope about how the world had changed since the debut of his 1989 film.

    Lee, an avid biker, said that he had biked to a protest in his native Brooklyn the other day: "Jimmy, my brother, people are there," he said. "The young white generation, my sisters and brothers, they're out there, it's not just Black and brown people. I'm very, very enthusiastic that people around the world were galvanized by the horrific murder of George Floyd."

    Lee added that he believed those very crowds would turn out to vote in November "and say 'hell no' to Agent Orange," he said, using his term for President Trump.

    Slightly tweaking the recent words of President Obama, Lee added that he thought the upcoming election was the most important in the history of the modern world. He then offered his latest opinion on Trump's performance and future potential: "This guy gets elected, the world is imperiled... things are bananas now. Bananas."

  • John Oliver Calls for Drastic Police Reform

    Screengrab/courtesy of HBO

    John Oliver spent his entire episode Sunday night talking about the system of police brutality that led to the anti-racism protests spreading across the country. After spending a few moments criticizing Trump for his photo op outside a church holding a Bible, "hid[ing] from protesters in a bunker" and invoking Floyd's name while making an announcement about employment numbers, Oliver moved on to the crux of Sunday's show: the police.

    He started out by noting that police have typically been portrayed as heroes in movies and shows like what he jokingly called "Cranky Gun Grandpa" (referencing Clint Eastwood films), "Cocaine Cops Who Fuck" (Miami Vice) and "Manic Bigot and His One Black Friend" (Lethal Weapon). "America loves nothing more than a renegade cop who doesn't play by the rules. But the reality of policing is and always has been very different," he said.

    Oliver said the history of law enforcement has always been "entangled with white supremacy." 

    "The police have not just been incidentally tainted by racism," he said. "For much of U.S. history, law enforcement meant enforcing laws that were explicitly designed to subjugate black people," Oliver said. 

    He went back to the earlier days of America, talking about when "slave patrols" were tasked with capturing and returning slaves. "For a century after that, police in the South were responsible for enforcing segregation while allowing and sometimes participating in lynchings and anti-Black terrorism," he said. 

    During the '90s, the school of thought was that minor offenses needed to be handled with "zero tolerance" lest they lead to more serious crimes, resulting in "the saturation of police in low-income communities of color," according to a Time report Oliver cited. 

    Oliver then moved on to the obstacles stopping police reform, including unions. "I get unions fighting for their workers; that is what they do," Oliver said. "But police unions take that to a dangerous extreme and negotiate language into contracts that makes removing a problem officer incredibly difficult." He cited a Washington Post study showing that about 25 percent of fired officers at the nation's largest police departments were rehired after appeals that were required by union contracts.

    Oliver also discussed "qualified immunity," which makes it hard to successfully sue an officer, or any public official, who exhibits inappropriate behavior, given that they can argue they were just doing their job and, therefore, immune from lawsuits.

    So, Oliver asked, what do we do now? He argued that drastic measures be considered, including "rethink[ing] the police from the ground up." One idea: Oliver cited the Camden, New Jersey, police department, which dissolved the department completely and forced officers to reapply for their jobs. New policy changes led to a drop in excessive force complaints and "some rebuilding of community trust," Oliver said.

    He also mentioned the idea of defunding the police, which many people have been calling for. He explained that the concept does not mean doing away with police altogether but rather investing in community programs like stable housing, mental health services and community organizations.

    Oliver ended by showing part of a video of author Kimberly Jones talking about the protests, letting her words conclude the episode. 

  • Joe Biden, Trevor Noah Discuss "Defund the Police" Rhetoric

    John Lamparski/Getty Images; Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

    Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared virtually on The Daily Show on Wednesday, speaking with Trevor Noah about how the police force should be handled in America.

    "You know, many activists and organizers have come out saying there have been repeated attempts to reform many police departments," said Noah. "Were it not for civilian cameras, we wouldn’t know the truth sometimes." 

    Noah asked Biden, if he was to become president, if he thinks there would be a world where "defunding the police would be the solution," giving the example of where responsibilities could be taken away from police forces — schools, places treating mental illness, in the homelessness community.

    Biden responded by saying that he believes changes can be introduced without having to defund the police completely. "I don’t believe police should be defunded, but I think that conditions should be placed upon them where departments are having to take significant reform. We should set up a national use of force standard. If they don’t sign on to it, then in fact they don’t get any of the federal money."

    He continued, "In addition, that they have to demonstrate that they release all the data that relates to misconduct by police, that all has to be sent to the justice department. If they don’t send it to the justice department nationally, they don’t get funded."

    He emphasized that police should be put second in those circumstances, and not first. "For example, we should change the way we deal with all drug abuse," Biden said. "Nobody should be going to jail for the use of drugs, they should be going to mandatory rehabilitation. We should be building rehab centers, not more prisons."

    Closing the segment, Biden emphasized the importance of building trust between law enforcement and communities to increase safety, and to invest in the funding of community police. "When we were funding community policing, the crime rate went down and the extent of brutality went down, too because people know who’s in the community. But it’s much bigger than that, it’s complicated. But I think we should turn over as much as we can to non-armed police officers to deescalate things related to mental illness, homelessness and drug abuse."

  • Tiffany Haddish Opens Up About Attending George Floyd's "Powerful" Memorial Service

    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

    Tiffany Haddish opened up about attending George Floyd's memorial service during Tuesday's Late Night. "I decided to go because I was invited," said Haddish. "The thing that made me really want to be there is I have watched my friends be slaughtered by the police."

    "I have watched people be murdered in front of me," she continued, noting that she saw a friend die when she was 13.

    "I wanted to be there in support of the family because I understand how they feel," she explained. "Being there was like being there for all of my friends whose funerals I already went to." 

    Haddish added that the service was "so powerful" and admitted that she didn't know it would be televised. "That was my first time walking into a funeral that was televised and a funeral of someone who was killed by a police officer," she said. "I thought that was really tremendous."

    "The eulogies that were given were so powerful. It was a great message and I cried so much," she said. "Not just for Floyd, but for all of those people that passed away and all of my friends and my family members that are locked up."

    Attendees participated in 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to acknowledge how long the Minneapolis police officer's knee was on Floyd's neck. During that time, Haddish thought, "What if someone's knee was on my neck for this long? How helpless were my friends when they were being attacked?"

    "The amount of pain I felt was tremendous," she recalled, noting that she cried throughout the funeral.

    The comedian also discussed how she's been having a hard time staying positive. "I like to think of myself as an administrator of joy," she said. "During this time, it has been so difficult for me to express any kind of joy or bring any kind of happiness cause I'm watching — I'm literally sitting back watching the world fall apart. … And it feels like it needs to fall apart."

    "Things need to fall apart and be put back together again in a way that's fair," she added.