Amid the ongoing nationwide protests calling for action against police brutality, actor Don Cheadle joined Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show on Thursday, where he reflected on his encounters with law enforcement.
The Black Monday star opened up to the late night host about how it’s common for Black people to have stories of how their parents have “cautioned them” on how to best handle contact with the police. “The rules of just how to make sure you can come home and be safe and what you had to do unfortunately was something that was put into our minds very early,” Cheadle told Fallon.
Though at first growing up in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri, and never recalling seeing law enforcement, the actor revealed that that all changed when he and his family moved to the suburbs.
“That’s when a lot of bullying started when I was in school and definitely predicated on race. That’s when it started to be evident that the cops were not on team Don,” he shared. He went on to explain that it became clear that he endured “different treatment,” which continued when he eventually moved to Los Angeles.
“I got stopped more times than I can count,” Cheadle said of his experience with law enforcement, adding that he also had “guns put to my head.” “I always fit the description. I used to finish their sentences. They’d go, ‘We’re stopping you because …’ and I’d go, ‘I fit the description. I know.'”
He added: “This is something that was happening over and over again. I had good friends that were almost killed by the police for nothing.”
After the video of the killing of George Floyd went viral, Cheadle said that the tragedy was unfortunately not something new. “This is not something that is new to me once all these videos came out,” he said, explaining that there are myriad instances that are not caught on camera.
Fallon then asked Cheadle for his thoughts on participating in a town hall discussion with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. “It’s great he put himself out there like that and that he allowed himself to be questioned,” the actor said.
Though hopeful, Cheadle admitted that he believes the 2020 election is “not going to be an easy election.” Of Biden, the actor said “he’s going to have to continue to show up and continue to really earn the spot really … it’s going to be an uphill battle.”
Cheadle also encouraged everyone to “remain vigilant” and “show up in numbers” to vote.
Later on, Cheadle also teased his role in Space Jam: A New Legacy alongside basketball star LeBron James. “It was just amazing to see how he took it on,” he said of James. “He was still dealing with an injury at the time. We were shooting the kind of hours that he was not used to. We were shooting 14 hours a day.”
When Fallon asked whether Cheadle played basketball with James, the actor smiled and coyly responded, “no comment.”
Watch his interview with Fallon below.