Leslie Jones shared her reaction to the protests across the country when she visited Late Night on Tuesday.
“I feel saddened,” she said of watching the protests that began following the May 25 death of George Floyd. “I always tell everybody I’m 52 and I’ve seen a lot of stuff.” Noting that she participated in the 1992 Los Angeles riots, she said, “It makes me sad because I’m looking at this and I’m knowing that this is not going to work.”
“We have a president that’s standing up there, calling us thugs and sending out National Guard,” she continued. “He’s not listening to anything that anyone’s going to say. I think the only thing he’s going to listen to is votes, and this is why I was telling everybody, if you’re going to change something, you have to change it.
“You have to fight the same fight that they’re fighting. You have to get into their ring,” she added. “You have to get educated and you have to vote. It’s just the only way.”
Jones said she wished the protestors would have taken a different route to fighting against racial injustice and police brutality. “I wish we would’ve pulled a gangster move and not did nothing and just waited until November and just stomped his ass,” she said.
The comedian said that she’s mad that black-owned businesses have been damaged and that people have been hurt as a result of the protests. “Trust me, I hear the protesters — I’m black — of course I hear the protesters,” she said. “I’m just knowing that they’re not being heard.”
While she hasn’t marched in a recent protest, Jones said that she has been utilizing her platform to encourage voting. “I’m going to use my platform to make sure that everybody understands the importance of voting,” she said. “When you don’t vote, you’re voting for him. A non-vote is a vote for Trump.
“A lot of people are making a good argument. ‘We don’t have nobody to vote for,'” she said. “Yes, we do. We have somebody other than him. We need to get him out, and then we need to start realizing what our system looks like.
“I think we all just need to realize that we’re all human and living on the same Earth and need to start working together before we don’t have nothing,” Jones added.
Host Seth Meyers asked Jones about her relationship with cops following her former Saturday Night Live co-star Michael Che’s comments about having never called 911 because he felt it was not a service for people like him.
“I’ve lived through a lot of stuff. My brother was a hard-core gangster. There’s been many nights that I had to go pick him up in the alley after sheriffs had dropped him off or beaten him,” she said. “For me, coming from Compton, the police is a bad thing.”
“You grow up and you meet other people and you learn things,” she continued. “I don’t think all cops are bad. I think there’s a percentage of them that are not trained well,” adding that she thought cops need to be retrained.
She also reflected on the riots in 1992, which she participated in when she was 22. “That’s why I understand the protesters, because there’s probably nothing you could say to them right now that’s going to make them not want to protest because there was nothing you could’ve said to me back then,” she said. “I was ready to burn it down because I was like, ‘We got to do something.'”
The comedian said that she “really thought we were doing something” during the 1992 riots. “We really thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to tear this up. They’re going to pay attention.’ And nothing happened. The officers got off,” she said. “And the city was tore up for years. L.A. just really got back.”
“The saddest part is all the businesses — the black businesses — that got torn down didn’t get to come back,” she added. “I feel like we were burning down our own house.”
In another segment, Jones shared the one thing she wished she could have told her 22-year-old self, who brought a sledgehammer to the riots. “I think I would say, … ‘What do you think that you’re going change by going out here with that?” Jones said.